Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Argentina maintains nationwide quarantine through May 24. Gradual reopening of economy planned, but stricter measures in Buenos Aires.

This alert affects Argentina

This alert began 11 May 2020 08:49 GMT and is scheduled to expire 25 May 2020 11:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through May 24
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, increased security

Summary
Authorities announced the extension of Argentina's nationwide quarantine through at least May 24, as well as revisions to current restrictions, to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Under the quarantine, residents are required to remain at home except for essential activities, and can only attend jobs in critical and authorized sectors, while recreational walking is allowed with restrictions. However, from May 11-24, most of the country, except the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA), will move into Phase 4 of isolation, which allows for the progressive reopening of the economy, and where each province chooses their own exceptions to the quarantine.

Industries and business permitted to open in the rest of the country under Phase 4 are automotive and auto parts; electronics and household appliance stores; textile, footwear and clothing businesses; tobacco products; metallurgy, machinery and equipment; graphics and other print industries; wood and furniture; toy stores; pharmaceutical laboratories; chemistry and petrochemistry; motorcycle and bicycle manufacturing; and tire manufacturing. Provincial governments will also be able to stipulate their own measures on recreational walking and the use of a protective mask in public. Existing nationwide preventative measures that cannot be relaxed anywhere are:

  • All schools and other educational institutions remain closed for face-to-face classes.
  • All public and private social, cultural, recreational, sports, and religious gatherings are prohibited.
  • Nonessential business and services, including commercial centers, cinemas, theaters, cultural centers, libraries, museums, restaurants, bars, gyms, clubs, and public parks, are to remain closed.
  • Persons over the age of 60 years, pregnant women and high-risk individuals are exempt from returning to the workplace.
  • The government has implemented strict controls on interprovincial movements, and all domestic flights are suspended. Public transport is reserved for essential service workers only.
  • A temporary entry ban for all nonresident foreign nationals remains in place until further notice. Departing flights for repatriation purposes have occurred in limited numbers. International cargo transport is not affected; however, drivers and crews are subject to enhanced screening measures. The government has suspended the sale of tickets for all commercial passenger flights through Sept. 1.


Stricter measures will remain in place in AMBA; however, the national government will allow for the phased reopening of only certain nonessential retail stores, small construction companies, and removal services, May 12-16. Residents will be permitted to make nonessential purchases according to the last digit of the individual's ID or passport number; those ending in an even number can attend to purchases on even number dates and those ending in an odd number can attend to purchases on odd number dates. Regulated outdoor exercise for children is permitted on weekends.

Authorities will likely keep an increased police presence deployed to enforce the measures. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Argentina's government correspond with similar actions taken by other governments globally in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). The government's decision to allow isolation exemptions across most of the country takes place within a 5-phase framework, where Phase 1 is strict isolation, Phase 2 administrative isolation, Phase 3 is geographic segmentation, Phase 4 is progressive reopening, and Phase 5 is the new normal. AMBA was excluded from progressing to Phase 4 because most cases are concentrated in the metropolitan area and the pace at which the number of COVID-19 cases doubles in the region, remains faster than the rest of the country. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, relaxed restrictions may be reapplied. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in further relaxation of restrictions.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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