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US News Covid-19: in Buenos Aires, after 6 months of confinement, the rules are relaxed

15:40  23 september  2020
15:40  23 september  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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Alors que Buenos Aires vient de passer le cap des 6 mois de confinement, les restaurants, bars et cafés sont de nouveau autorisés à servir en terrasse depuis le début du mois. Les réunions de moins de 10 personnes sont permises dans les espaces publics. © ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP While Buenos Aires has just passed the 6-month confinement milestone, restaurants, bars and cafes are again authorized to serve on the terrace since the beginning of the month. Meetings of less than 10 people are permitted in public areas.

The Argentine capital has just passed the six-month confinement milestone, a world record. Despite the restrictions, however, containment has been relaxed a bit in recent weeks in the megalopolis, allowing a large number of businesses to be opened.

From our correspondent in Buenos Aires,

Restaurants, bars and cafes have been authorized to serve on the terrace again since the beginning of the month. Meetings of less than 10 people are permitted in public spaces and in the open air. It’s a breath, after six months of confinement. The streets of the capital have regained some activity, because most of the businesses are open, even if all must respect a very strict protocol.

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However, there are still many restrictions. In Buenos Aires, only workers in so-called “essential” sectors can take public transport. You are not allowed to leave the city unless you have a work permit or a family emergency. Meetings with friends and family in closed spaces are prohibited.

As in the rest of the country, children have been out of school for over six months. They have already lost two-thirds of the school year in face-to-face lessons, as Argentina is just emerging from the southern winter. So they hadn't been on summer vacation for the past few months.

The restrictions are even more severe in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, where restaurants and cafes remain closed. In addition, several provinces of the country which had started to deconfin have returned in recent weeks to the strictest phase of containment due to an explosion in the number of cases.

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The number of cases still rising

Despite these six months of restrictions, the number of cases and deaths continues to increase in Argentina. There have been more than 10,000 daily cases since the beginning of September and at the moment there are nearly 250 deaths per day.

What has changed in recent weeks is the distribution of positive cases. At the start of the epidemic, the vast majority of new cases were in greater Buenos Aires. Today, the epidemic is accelerating in the rest of the country. This is of great concern to the authorities because in several provinces, intensive care services are close to saturation.

Such an acceleration of the epidemic may seem paradoxical, when the decision to contain it was taken very early, when Argentina had only a hundred positive cases. This compulsory isolation saved time for the healthcare system, which was able to equip itself and avoid saturation. But experts believe that some measures have been lacking, such as systematic traceability of positive cases. The number of tests performed is also very low compared to other countries: 39,000 per million inhabitants, compared to 153,000 in France.

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Containment difficult to respect

In Argentina, containment was adopted as the main measure in the fight against the coronavirus, but it could not be respected as much as in Europe. Like many countries in Latin America, Argentina has a large proportion of informal workers: around 40% of the working population. In a country that was already going through an economic crisis even before the pandemic, state aid was insufficient, and many of these people had to go out to work to survive.

It should also be understood that after months of confinement, a certain weariness has set in among the population. Psychologically, many have found it difficult to endure this forced isolation, in a society that usually places great importance on family and social life. Some have therefore chosen to see their loved ones despite the ban, which also facilitated the circulation of the virus.

Argentina, which has recorded 13,500 coronavirus deaths so far, has still not passed the peak of the epidemic and remains confined until October 11.

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