Protesters took to the streets in Buenos Aires on Saturday to demonstrate their rejection of the government’s tightened measures against Covid-19.
Several parts of the capital witnessed small ‘17A’ demonstrations, while others congregated outside the Olivos presidential residence on the outskirts of the city to express their opposition to the measures.
Many of the protests were dominated by the waving of national flags, banners mocking and criticising the president and key officials and a considerable amount of anger, with the decision to shutter schools in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA) coming in for the most criticism.
The main rally against the new measures took place at the City’s famous Obelisk, in the centre of Avenida 9 de Julio, where several hundred protesters turned out at both locations.
President Alberto Fernández announced new restrictions for the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA) – where 15 million of Argentina’s 45 million inhabitants live – last Wednesday, extending a nighttime curfew and shuttering schools for the next two weeks, among other measures.
"The children have to be at school – not behind a computer," said Florencia, a 39-year-old mother as she demonstrated.
University professor María Luján Calcaño, 62, argued the decision to ban in-person classes was an infringement of human rights, saying the president’s restrictions were “denying” children their “essential right to education.”
As well as concerned parents, the protesters also drew opposition supporters and Covid-19 denialists. "Wake up, there is no virus," read one demonstrator’s poster. Others burned facemasks in protest, although most wore them for protection. Most did not follow social distancing rules, however.
Argentina is being slammed by a Covid-19 second wave and registered a record 29,472 infections in 24 hours on Friday. In total 2.6 million cases have now been confirmed since the start of the pandemic, with more than 57,000 fatalities.
In the AMBA region, bed occupancy in intensive care units (ICUs) has crept up to 74.3 percent, with it at 64.8 percent nationwide.
"That is why we have adopted these measures for the entire AMBA [region], because we understand that in this way we will be able to tune the City's health system, which today is on the verge of saturation," President Fernández said Saturday in an interview with the Data Clave website.
To halt the runaway second wave, the Peronist leader has ordered the imposition of a nighttime curfew running from 8pm to 6am. Bars and restaurants can only remain open to serve customers until 7pm, while local recreational and sports activities in roofed areas are also banned.
Fernández said the measures had been met with "high compliance," despite the opposition to them.
"The vast majority of people perceive the dimension of the problem. They notice that [the virus] is exposed being in places where there is a lot of agglomeration of people," he said.
Argentina reported 19,119 new cases and 80 deaths this Saturday. To date, more than 6.2 million people have been vaccinated, with 794,878 of those receiving the second dose.to complete their inoculation against the disease.