BUENOS AIRES — Argentina went into full lockdown mode on Friday, with streets in Buenos Aires largely deserted, while workers and school kids in the capital logged on remotely to offices, classrooms and even digital dancing lessons, after a mandatory quarantine was imposed.
On Thursday President Alberto Fernandez announced the isolation measure to keep all but essential workers in their homes until the end of March in what he called “a fight against an invisible enemy to save lives.”
“In the face of this crisis there is no place for individualistic attitudes, we need to maintain social distancing by avoiding leaving our homes… Faced with this threat, we are all responsible. Our destinies depends on each other.”
Argentina has so far registered 128 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with three deaths. The government has shut borders to non-residents, restricted long-distance domestic travel and curtailed large events.
In the capital few cars circulated with some buses running to allow people involved in essential sectors including health care and food to get around. Some small shops were open for groceries and medicines.
Geraldine Cunto, 38, a television executive at the city’s famous Hipodromo race track, said she had moved in with her parents, both 73, when Fernandez announced the quarantine.
“This is the house l grew up in, so last night when the quarantine countdown was on, they asked me to please be with them. I packed my things and left immediately to what feels like going back 25 years in time,” Cunto said.
Living under the same roof for the first time in years had so far been an interesting experience.
“My mom probably cleaned the house 100 times in 10 hours and will have to understand the concept of relaxing!” she said.
The lockdown was a shock for others.
“I spend much of the day outside normally. From here to a week without leaving it will affect me a lot,” said 36-year-old lawyer Gonzalo Miri. “It totally changes my routine.”
Alejo Ortega, a 44-year-old business development consultant, said he was already struggling to juggle helping noisy kids with digital homework, cooking for the family, dealing with bumpy internet connections and focusing on his day job.
Mónica Tepfer, a 37-year-old lawyer, said however she had all the tools to maintain – in part – her normal life.
“Yesterday I took an digital class from my masters degree and today I even had my dance lesson online.”
(GRAPHIC: Argentina coronavirus cases png – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/ARGENTINA-DEBT/0H001R8GJCC8/eikon.png)
(Reporting by Nicolas Misculin, Eliana Raszewski, Cassandra Garrison, Maximilian Heath, Walter Bianchi; Writing by Adam Jourdan)