Argentina has instituted tight curbs on business and leisure operations as the South American country tries to ward off a new wave of coronavirus infections, the presidential office said on Thursday.
President Alberto Fernández pleaded with the Argentinian population to make a concerted effort to reduce their movements in a bid to reduce infections and alleviate pressure on the health care system.
“We are experiencing the worst moment since the pandemic began,” Fernández said. On Thursday more than 35,000 coronavirus infections were reported for the third straight day in Argentina.
“You know that I travel the country and you also know that I know the enormous difficulties we are going through,” the president said. “We are having the highest number of cases and deaths.”
Officials said movement would be restricted in high-risk areas of the country until May 30.
All social, educational, religious and sports activities would be suspended, the president said in a televised message from Casa Rosado, his official residence.
After May 31, pandemic measures would return to their current level of an 8pm to 6am and social, recreational and commercial activities prohibited in enclosed spaces.
Fernández pledged to step up vaccination efforts in which more than 10m doses have been administered, according to government data. Only 2m are fully vaccinated.
Argentina, with a population of more than 45m, has registered 3.4m cases, including 72,699 deaths.
However, the country will now be the sole host of the Copa America, a football tournament due to start next month, after the ruling regional body removed Colombia as co-host due to social unrest.
It would have been the first Copa America hosted by two countries, but street protests have gathered pace against Iván Duque, Colombian president.
Earlier, Colombian authorities asked Conmebol, the regional football body, to postpone the tournament because of the pandemic.
Copa America is scheduled to be played between June 13 and July 10. The Colombia matches would be moved to venues in Argentina, Conmebol said.