Buenos Aires, Sep 21 (EFE).- Buenos Aires, Sep 21 (EFE).- Argentina’s government on Tuesday announced an easing of the strict mitigation measures it imposed to combat Covid-19, including allowing 100 percent capacity at retail outlets and 50 percent capacity at nightclubs, ending a mask requirement for people in most open-air settings and gradually reopening the country’s borders to foreign arrivals.
“If things continue in this direction, it means that we’re perhaps going through the last stage of this pandemic,” Cabinet Chief Juan Manzur said in a press conference in which he and Health Minister Carla Vizzotti reviewed the policy changes and provided new Covid-19 figures that they hailed as promising.
Those officials said the nation’s borders will be reopened gradually, with authorized foreigners on business trips allowed to enter and not subject to mandatory quarantine starting Sept. 24. Argentine citizens and residents who meet vaccine and testing requirements also will not have to enter quarantine upon arrival.
Starting Oct. 1, foreigners from neighboring countries will be allowed to enter Argentina, while entry quotas for safe corridors, airports, ports and land borders will all be raised between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1.
And starting Nov. 1 all foreign arrivals will be authorized to enter the country and also will not be required to go into mandatory quarantine.
Coronavirus restrictions, however, will remain in place for all travelers, who must show proof of having completed their full vaccine series at least 14 days prior to arrival and produce a negative result from a PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure (or a negative result from a rapid antigen test upon arrival).
They must also undergo another PCR test between the fifth and seventh days of their arrival.
Foreigners who have not completed the full vaccine series, including minors, must observe quarantine and undergo an antigen test upon arrival and a PCR test on Day 7.
Masks, meanwhile, will no longer be required in open-air settings – except for crowded places – starting Oct. 1, but they will still be required indoors. Limits on the number of people attending social gatherings will be lifted that day.
Also starting next month, retail outlets and manufacturing and other business facilities will be able to operate at 100 percent capacity, as will religious services and cultural, sporting, recreational and social events in closed settings.
But nightclubs will still only be able to operate at 50 percent capacity and entry will be restricted to those who can show proof of having been administered the full vaccine series at least 14 days prior.
Crowded events with more than 1,000 people in attendance, such as soccer matches, will be permitted starting Oct. 1, although capacity will be limited to 50 percent.
Manzur said restrictions will be further eased as Argentina’s coronavirus numbers continue to improve.
Vizzotti said 2.5 million doses still must be administered to meet the government’s goal of having 50 percent of the population immunized with two doses, noting that at present 43.7 percent of Argentines have received the full Covid-19 vaccine series.
Argentina has reported 5.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and attributed 114,518 deaths to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
“From a health perspective, we’re at a really very positive moment,” the health minister said.
She noted that Argentina has experienced a drop in new coronavirus cases for 16 consecutive weeks and has reported lower numbers of new deaths and new intensive-care admissions for 14 consecutive weeks.
Referring to the highly contagious Delta variant, Vizzotti confirmed local community spread of that coronavirus variety but said it is not the dominant strain in Argentina. EFE