While Europe is already moving towards the new normality, in Argentina, they are still confined. Buenos Aires and its populous metropolitan area (AMBA), along with the northern province of Chaco and other towns with the high circulation of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, began this week a stricter stage of quarantine, marked by the closure of businesses non-essential and increased traffic controls.
In this new stage, which in principle will last until July 17, all commercial activities will close their doors again except for the 24 considered essential, including health personnel, security forces, public workers, the press, and food industry workers.
The workers of these activities are the only ones who can use public transport or transit with their vehicles, along with people excepted for specific matters such as eldercare.
To ensure compliance with the standard, controls were intensified, mainly at access points to the capital. Every day, despite the quarantine, 850,000 people have access to work, according to data from the city government.
The controls on the road began to be applied this Monday, although, since Wednesday, the passage of non-essential workers is restricted in the 20 enabled entrances to the capital. At the same time, another 20 remain “semi-enabled,” 27 are closed, and 26 pedestrian bridges are open.
At the checkpoints, it is verified that all people have a circulation permit, which the Government grants to workers in the 24 activities and to those who request it for special reasons, such as separated fathers and mothers and “urgent procedures and emergencies, “which is granted a 24-hour license that can only be requested twice a week.
At some of the busiest points, such as the Noria Bridge, the controls have led to kilometer retentions, before which the Minister of Security of the province of Buenos Aires, Sergio Berni, has had to supervise the situation, showing his upset before the press.
In a situation like this, we have to make things easier for people, not put it on the fence (complicate it) anymore. We have 10 kilometers of queue doing a control over a bridge with two lanes when to 100 meters we have five lanes to control. (…) An ambulance cannot take 20 minutes to pass, “Berni said.
According to government figures, until now, 2,235,083 circulation permits have been processed in the AMBA. We must add another 131,407 with a 24-hour validity, which in total represents a reduction of 50% compared to last week.
As already happened when the quarantine began on March 20, many businesses had to lower their blinds again after, in recent weeks they managed to reopen gradually and with the approval of sanitary protocols for each activity.
In the populated Liniers neighborhood, famous for its trade in primary products, the streets today looked empty, an image that collides with the crowd that usually goes to local shops and businesses, with the new measures, only a small part can open. However, they are also affected by less circulation of people.
“This affects us a lot. There are fewer people on the street. People buy less. The truth is that it hurts the business,” Iván Ordieychu, a kiosk worker who can remain open, told Efe, although he had to change his hours to “open a little later, because people walk later, and close earlier. “
In a similar situation is Oscar Manruth, who runs a clothing store for medical supplies, which, despite having permission to open, was affected by its turnover. In contrast, other neighboring businesses had to close permanently.
“Only in this block there are 3 or 4 that have already closed, the shopping centers that could not market their merchandise are usually going to have problems,” he assured Efe.
According to the Federation of Commerce and Industry (Fecoba), to date, 23,000 shops will not reopen in Buenos Aires, a number that continues to rise.
“If this continues and there is no immediate help, we will reach 27,000 businesses in 30 days,” said Fecoba president Fabián Castillo, in dialogue with Radio la Red.
“Very difficult days”
The pandemic and its consequent quarantine will have an economic impact on a country with two years of crisis, with an increasing poverty rate that, according to the latest official data, affects 35.6% of the population. To this panorama, we must add the arrival of the southern winter cold, which aggravates the homeless.
The Minister of Social Development, Daniel Arroyo, went to the parish of San Cayetano, in the Liniers neighborhood, to deliver warm clothes and material to mitigate the cold to Cáritas, one part bought by the Ministry and the other part of the material that was He was being held at Customs and took advantage of the situation to remember that “17 very difficult days are coming in social matters.”
“Poverty with cold is the worst situation, the pandemic is combined, with many people who are distressed and also with the fear of the circulation of the virus, and cold complicates the general situation of all, particularly those who are in a situation of the street, “said the Minister and explained that” 11 million Argentines are going to dining rooms, picnic areas, in a critical situation. “
The tightening of the quarantine responds to an increase in the number of daily cases. The total number of infected since the pandemic came to the country is 67,197, of which 1,363 died.
The authorities monitor intensive care beds daily, which throughout the country has an occupancy level of 50.5%, while in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires, it reaches 55.5%.
In total, 576 people remain in intensive care for coronavirus in the country, of which 92.5% are in the capital and the province of Buenos Aires, while 23,040 people recovered and were discharged.