Argentina curtails leisure, public transport use after hitting new Covid-19 record

Passengers descend at the Once train station in Buenos Aires, on April 7, 2021.
Passengers descend at the Once train station in Buenos Aires, on April 7, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

BUENOS AIRES (REUTERS) - Argentina has tightened movement restrictions including curtailing the leisure industry and blocking non-essential workers from using public transport after the country struggles with a second wave of the virus.

President Alberto Fernandez on Wednesday (April 8) announced a curfew between midnight and 6am, the closure of bars and restaurants at 11pm and the suspension of operations for casinos, bingo halls and nightclubs in areas of the country with the highest infection rates.

Sports in enclosed spaces with the participation of more than 10 people were also banned and in the Buenos Aires area, where cases have increased 53 per cent in seven days, all but essential workers along with teachers and those with special authorisation are prohibited from using public transport.

President Fernandez, who recently disclosed that he had asymptomatic Covid-19, said he was seeking to strike a balance between protecting the health and the economic well-being of Argentines.

He vowed to keep schools open "as much as possible".

The announcements come as the country hit a record number of Covid-19 infections on Wednesday and just months after it eased a lengthy lockdown last year, suffering from a battered economy.

Mr Fernandez, 62, who has received two doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, tested positive for Covid-19 at the weekend.

He said his experience showed "how important the vaccine is" and pledged to redouble the country's inoculation campaign, despite concern over a continuing supply of doses.

By Tuesday, 4.5 million people had received a dose of Covid-19 vaccine and 699,598 people had received the two doses.

Argentina has so far recorded around 2.4 million coronavirus cases and 56,500 deaths, a Reuters tally of official data shows.

On Wednesday, it announced a new record of 22,039 confirmed cases, topping the previous day's record of 20,870 cases.