The Buenos Aires City government has announced that, starting Wednesday (April 15), the use of homemade face-masks will be obligatory on public transport and in shops and public offices.
City officials also banned citizens from leaving their homes for exercise and outlawed the selling of the N95 surgical face-masks to anyone that is not a healthcare worker.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday morning, City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta said that those who did not comply with the new rules, issued by emergency decree, would be fine "between 10,000 and 80,000 pesos" for fines for those who do not use homemade masks in shops and on public transportation in the nation's capital.
Commercial stores whose staff do not follow the rules will be shuttered, City officials added.
Porteños will be expected to use homemade face coverings, or "tapabocas," with officials seeking to save surgical, professional-standard "barbijos" for healthcare professionals.
"From Wednesday, at midnight, the use of 'tapabocas' is mandatory, and we say 'tapabocas' because the face-masks are for the exclusive use of health personnel," declared Rodríguez Larreta.
Officially, in the City government's emergency decree, "tapabocas" refers to the "obligatory use of elements of protection that cover the nose, face and chin" when entering shops, public offices and public transport.
The Juntos por el Cambio leader also said that security officials and police will be "more strict in the controls," and said citizens could no longer leave their homes for exercise.
"With the density of population that this city has, it is totally impossible. It may be valid for some cities in the interior of the country," said Rodríguez Larreta.
"Every measure we can take to prevent the spread of the virus we are going to take. Two out of every three people who have [the] coronavirus do not have symptoms, but they still spread it. To avoid it, we all have to act as if we all have the virus, wearing masks when we go outside our homes."
The use of face-coverings – which must cover the mouth and nose, City Health Minister Fernán Quirós confirmed – is not compulsory when circulating on foot or in private vehicles, though officials said they recommend the precaution in any other area or place, except the home.