Buenos Aires began a timid reopening of economic activity on Monday, relaxing coronavirus containment measures despite continued high infection rates.
"We need to learn to live with the virus because if we don't, the economic damage will be worse than the damage done by the virus," Daniel Bailo, a vendor at a hiking and fishing store that opened on Monday, told AFP.
The reopening of the Greater Buenos Aires area, where 90 percent of Argentina's coronavirus cases have been concentrated, comes despite the country reporting more than 3,000 new infections a day. This new phase will continue until August 2, with new permissions granted every few days.
"We hope people will be responsible," City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta said on Monday.
He was one of the first people to head out for a morning run as a marked increase of people could be seen on the street.
The new measures allow citizens to exercise outside and to visit places of worship. Other activities to restart are non-essential businesses such as hairdressers; lawyers and psychologists; and industry including manufacturing and food processing.
The Juntos por el Cambio mayor advised caution and warned that "personal contact is by far the largest source of infection."
Containment measures were relaxed once before but then reimposed on July 1 to contain a surge in cases in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA), home to 14 million of Argentina's 44 million population.
'Tip of the iceberg'
Fears remain that new cases will continue to increase, potentially saturating hospital intensive care units (ICU).