BUENOS AIRES, Apr 16 (Reuters) – Tired by the extensive and strict quarantine that was ordered in Argentina in 2020 to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, many businessmen in the area of the City of Buenos Aires decided to ignore the new restrictions imposed by the national government in the face of the strong increase in infections.
The measures hit activities such as gyms, restaurants and bars, which saw their activity affected for much of last year, when President Alberto Fernández ordered a strict policy of social isolation to face the pandemic.
This time many of them decided to disobey the presidential decree that came into force on Friday and that stipulates that until April 30, gastronomic businesses will only be able to serve at tables outside the premises during the day and be limited only to shipments of orders by the night. In addition, it ordered the closure of closed spaces for sports, recreational, cultural and religious activities.
The ‘Sillas al Revés’ movement, which was created in 2020 and brings together renowned restaurants in Buenos Aires, assured that it will not abide by the decree, adding that it is a “new outrage” against its sector.
“Gastronomy is not contagious. We are a safe space to work. It has already been proven that we are not a source of contagion and a source of jobs,” the group said in a statement.
In different neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and its surroundings, bars, gyms and restaurants had people inside, disregarding the presidential decree.
Marcelo, 63, owner of a bar located in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Almagro for 18 years, said he does not intend to abide by the new regulations and only serve tables abroad.
“That the president does what he has to do. I do not agree with these measures,” he explained. “Last year was very tough.”
On the other hand, a gym on the famous Corrientes Avenue, had the entrance blind halfway up, through which its clients continued to enter.
“At the moment we are still open, like all gym chains,” said an employee who did not want to give her name.
Fernández was against the “rebellion” of these sectors, pointing out that they have received state aid to survive during the restrictions.
“Laws are made to be complied with. I can understand that these sectors may be affected in some way, but I want to remind you that all those bars, restaurants that are still alive today last year received assistance from the State,” the president explained in a conference of press.
“Not the rebellion for me. In a State of Law, the laws are complied with. Those who do not like it, turn to Justice, make requests. I am here to help them in the emergency that we are experiencing, I am not to tolerate let them do what they want, “he added.
Verónica, an employee of a bar, said that she learned on Friday of the prohibition to serve inside the premises and that the owner had not yet indicated that they only serve tables outside.
“We have only four tables outside, so it can’t be done,” explained Veronica. “I do not accept it but neither do people accept it, who continue to enter to consume inside.”
The new restrictions also suspend face-to-face classes until the end of April in the City of Buenos Aires and its surroundings (AMBA) and restrict circulation between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. (2300/0900 GMT).
After a meeting with the head of Government of the City of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, who announced that he will resort to the courts to prevent the suspension of classes, Fernández ratified the validity of the decree with the new restrictions.
Argentina, in what is considered a second wave of infections, this week registered a daily record of 27,001 new patients. The country totaled 2.6 million cases as of Thursday, of which 58,925 died.
(Reporting by Agustín Geist; Additional reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Edited by Eliana Raszewski and Jorge Otaola)