Coronavirus Despite the possible second wave, the Government rules out repeating a quarantine like the one in April

The City of Buenos Aires, deserted during the quarantine Source: LA NACION – Credit: Fernando Gutierrez

The alarms sounded last Monday and Tuesday at the Toyota plant in Zárate. Several workers from the welding (solder) tested positive for Covid-19. The Japanese company, among the most careful in the country with regard to safety and hygiene protocols, had to suspend production shifts in the morning of both days. The company has no doubts: the greater circulation of people in recent weeks – and not what happens inside the factory – was the determining vector for the appearance of new outbreaks. In this diagnosis they coincide with the Government, currently more concerned about the economy of 2021, a year conditioned by mid-term elections.

While the northern hemisphere transits the second wave of the virus with thousands of deaths, the high plateau of cases and a jump in local infections worries the ruling party. To find more than 11,000 infected, like yesterday, you have to go back to mid-November. The numbers of the City and the province of Buenos Aires already resemble those of October, despite the fact that experts warn about the greater number of tests for the summer holidays and the Holidays.

To avoid another economic catastrophe, such as that of the second quarter of this year (the worst drop in GDP in the country’s history), the Government prays to vaccines, Sputnik V and AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, the available initially. However, three sources from the economic team told THE NATION what They do not consider viable in 2021 a quarantine of the same intensity, rigor and extension as the one established at the end of March and during April. That month was the only one in history in which not a car was built.

“The entire Government is working very hard to be able to vaccinate the population and be able to immunize it,” said the Minister of Productive Development, Matías Kulfas, in an interview on Radio Con Vos at the weekend, who celebrated the arrival of the Russian vaccine before end of the year. But in case there was a second wave, Kulfas was clear. “The situation is different from that of March or April. So it was necessary to take strong measures so that the population became aware of what the coronavirus meant, something unprecedented in people’s lives. But it was also necessary to adapt the health system, something what was done, “added the minister.

“The industry learned to work with protocols. The conditions are different. If we have a resurgence, it would not be necessary to generate such a closure of the economy again. Argentina, if it learned anything, is to live with the virus. Yes, perhaps, some more restrictive measures should be taken, but not at the level of those of March and April of this year, “he closed.

His vision is shared by the Casa Rosada, as collected THE NATION. “Health and economic policies are going to be evaluated with the data in hand,” said there a referent from the area linked to the economic table closest to the President, and quickly clarified: “Now we know more than in April. We’ll see.” In the Ministry of Economy, led by Martín Guzmán, they preferred not to give opinions on hypothetical situations. There, the Columbia economist never ruled out the second wave. Although the 2021 Budget does not include expenses in IFE or ATP, some “flexibilities” in case the fiscal deficit must be inflated to support workers or vulnerable sectors.

Corrientes street during quarantine
Corrientes street during quarantine Source: File – Credit: Fabián Marelli / LA NACION

In the province of Buenos Aires, where Christianity is growing strong, they believe that it is “unfeasible” to completely close the economy again. “We don’t know how we are going to be in March and April. But quarantine as at first I do not see it “, said to THE NATION an official of Axel Kicillof.

There they do not want to undermine the optimism collected by the surveys carried out by the Minister of Production of the province, Augusto Costa. According to the surveys, 88% of the Buenos Aires businessmen surveyed believe that the productive activity “will be maintained or increased” in 2021; 95.3% of the companies estimate that provincial exports will be the same or better and 23.8% of the provincial firms plan to incorporate more employees in the coming year. The numbers, however, still show a worrying outlook for things that depend on signals, such as investment: only 24.7% of PBA SMEs plan to invest. It is a lower percentage than the one that bet on the Buenos Aires territory this year (36.5%). The survey was carried out among 417 companies from 90 Buenos Aires municipalities, between November 24 and 11 this month.

“The enabling of activities in the pandemic took into account the epidemiological conditions, the risks associated with each sector and the need for the greatest number of activities to be operational. Today we are observing with concern the increase in cases both in AMBA and in the rest of the Province “, they said near the governor Kicillof. “What we hope is that with the protocols and individual responsibility to comply with prevention and care measures we will be able to avoid a pronounced regrowth while the vaccination plan is being developed. If the situation worsens, we will take the corresponding measures. Today It is difficult to assess how we are going to be in March or April and what kind of measures are going to be necessary, “they added.

Although 93% of the companies surveyed are already in normal or partial activity, only 29.7% of SMEs have sales at pre-pandemic levels. That is why the authorities see a total closure in the district that aspires to control Kirchnerism unlikely and the only important one when evaluating victories or defeats in times of midterm elections. At the national level, this year the GDP will have a fall like that of 2002, there will be 2.2 million fewer employed persons, poverty will be around 45% and 90,700 businesses will be closed.

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