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CULTURE | 14-03-2020 10:12

Events across Argentina postponed as officials take measures

Authorities decide to suspend concerts and festivals across the country – but football matches will go ahead, just without fans.

Concerts, festivals, spectacles a nd spor ting events across the country have been postponed in Argentina, with big name music festivals such as Lollapalooza falling victim to efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

In an address to the nation on Thursday, President Alberto Fernández announced details of his emergency DNU decree, which introduced a host of measures designed to tackle the spread of the virus.

Among other measures, the government ordered the suspension of concerts, shows and events with large gatherings and the closure of some public spaces.

Galleries and museums will also shut doors across the country, while in Buenos Aires City, attractions such as the famed Teatro Colón opera house are closing off to the public.

Prior to the president’s address, a number of provinces – including Santa Fe and Mendoza – said they would postpone events unilaterally, with musician Fito Páez witnessing the cancellation of his scheduled show in Rosario.

CITY AND PROVINCE

Speaking early Thursday morning at a press conference, officials from the Buenos Aires City government announced an immediate suspension of all large shows. The Buenos Aires Province government quickly followed suit.

Buenos Aires Province Cabinet Chief Carlos Bianco announced that the risk of holding large-scale events had been evaluated, and that officials decided would be safest to suspend them until further notice. Their scale, attendance and the potential attraction of foreigners from other countries affected by the infectious disease to shows, were cited as reasons for suspension.

However, there remained confusion as to what constituted a large show. Seeking to clarify the situation, a release from Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta said that “any event, meeting or event ...whose object is artistic, musical or festive, with greater than 200 attendees” would be suspended.

In addition, officials would restrict “occupation capacity by 50 percent, which may not exceed 200 people, for all religious activities that take place” at religious sites, theatres, cinemas, game rooms and privately run cultural centres.”

On Thursday, a City decree banned activities in all nightclubs in the City for an initial 30 days. Other provinces, including Córdoba and Mendoza, also followed suit.

Museums, galleries and the capital’s tourist bus would also be affected, officials confirmed. Schools, however, would remain open, national government officials said.

FOOTBALL ON – AND OFF

However, football in Argentina will be continuing – just without fans and only if it involves local residents, the game’s authorities have decided.

On Wednesday, officials suspended a number of upcoming sports events – including the Argentine MotoGP, the South American Swimming Championships, an Athletics Grand Prix meeting, the Fencing World Cup and an Olympic boxing qualification tournament – as a precautionary measure to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Sports Secretariat initially said all March sports events had been suspended, but later clarified (in its fourth press release featuring corrections) that the measure only targeted events “due to take place in the next few days in which sports people coming from affected countries were due to take part.”

Amid confusion and speculation, on Thursday Tourism and Sports Minister Matías Lammens clarified in a letter to Argentine Football Association (AFA) chief Claudio Tapía that authorities should “preventively suspend until further notice the attendance of the public” at all matches across the country.

Meanwhile, on Thursday CONMEBOL said it would suspend upcoming Copa Libertadores matches.

“Committed to the prevention of Covid-19 and faced with the risk of its spread, and to safeguard delegates, referees, officials, press and fans, [CONMEBOL] has taken the decision to suspend the 2002 Copa Libertadores matches in the week of March 15-21,” said the governing body in a statement.

FIFA also moved to postpone upcoming South American World Cup qualifiers.

“Matches originally scheduled to take place during the international window of 23-31 March 2020 are postponed to later dates,” world football’s governing body announced on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, President Fernandez also urged human rights organisations to reconsider their scheduled demonstrations for the National Day of Memory of Truth and Justice on March 24, the anniversary of the 1976 coup that brought the military dictatorship to power. They cancelled the event yesterday.

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