Please note, your browser is out of date.
For a good browsing experience we recommend using the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.

Covid-19

Mandatory Precautionary Social Isolation Regime and Exceptions (Argentina)

As a consequence of the issuance of the Decree Nbr. 297/2020 (the “Decree 297”) by the Federal Executive Branch, the Precautionary and Mandatory Social Isolation became effective. Basically, its purpose is for people to (i) remain in their regular homes for its duration; (ii) refrain to go to their place of work; and (iii) in general, avoid travelling on routes, roads and public spaces except to procure food and cleaning and medical supplies. Originally, the Precautionary and Mandatory Social Isolation would be effective until March 31, 2020 but said term has been extended and therefore will remain effective until April 13, 2020 –inclusive- as established through Decree Nbr. 325/20, published on March 31, 2020.

Decree 297 foresees certain exceptions to the isolation obligation, which can be extended on a general or an individual basis, as explained below. The people that are affected by the activities and services declared essential during the emergency are allowed to commute to and from them, but only and exclusively for the purposes of strict compliance with those activities and services.

However, there are certain people who, even if they carry out activities that are considered “essential”, are not exempted from the Precautionary and Mandatory Social Isolation, and are therefore obliged to comply with it

  1. Exceptions to the Precautionary and Mandatory Social Isolation

The scheme of exceptions authorized by the Executive Power consists in an exhaustive enumeration of people and activities, which could be eventually expanded or limited (in general or eventually in particular, as explained below).

According to Decree 297 and the subsequent Administrative Decision of the Chief of Ministers Nbr. 429/2020 (the “AD 429”), people who are affected by the activities and services declared essential for the emergency, as detailed below, are exempted from complying with the Precautionary and Mandatory Social Isolation as well as with the prohibition on movement solely limited to the purpose of performing the activity or service:

  1. Personnel affected to healthcare, security forces, armed forces, migrations, national weather service, firefighters, air traffic control.
  2. High-ranked authorities of the national, provincial and municipal governments and employees of those governmental authorities that have been summoned to work by the relevant authorities to ensure essential activities.
  3. Courts that are on-call, as declared by competent authorities.
  4. Foreign diplomatic and consular personnel
  5. Careproviders to disabled people, family members in need of assistance, elderly people, children and teenagers.
  6. People needed to attend force majeure situations.
  7. People affected to provide burial and cremation services.
  8. People affected to the attention of school and community food services.
  9. Personnel that works in audiovisual communication, radio and newspapers.
  10. Personnel affected to public works.
  11. Wholesale and retail supermarkets and local retail stores. Pharmacies. Hardware stores. Vet’s stores. Gas carafes suppliers.
  12. The following industries: food, their production and supplies chains; personal hygiene and cleanliness; medical equipment, medicines, vaccines and other sanitary supplies.
  13. Activities related to the production, distribution and commercialization of agriculture and fishing.
  14. Telecommunications activities, fixed and mobile internet and digital services.
  15. Non-deferrable activities related to foreign trade.
  16. Collection, transport and treatment of waste (urban solid, dangerous and pathogenic).
  17. Maintenance of basic utilities (water, electricity, gas, communications, etc.) and emergency care.
  18. Public passenger transportation, transportation of goods, oil, fuels and LPG.
  19. Home delivery of food, medicines, hygiene products, cleaning products and other supplies of need.
  20. Laundry services.
  21. Postal and parcel distribution services.
  22. Essential surveillance, cleaning and guard services.
  23. Minimum guards to ensure the operation and maintenance of Oil and Gas Fields, Oil and gas treatment and/or refining plants, transportation and distribution of electrical energy, liquid fuels, oil and gas, fuel dispensing stations and power generators.
  24. E. Casa de Moneda, ATM services, transportation of values and all those activities that the CENTRAL BANK OF THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC deems essential to guarantee the operation of the payment system.
  25. Industries that carry out continuous processes which interruption will imply structural damage to production lines and / or machinery, may request authorization from the Ministry of Industry, Knowledge, Economy and External Commercial Management not to interrupt their production, minimizing their activity and staffing.
  26. Production and distribution of biofuels.
  27. Operation and nuclear power plants.
  28. Hotels affected to the health emergency service. They must also guarantee benefits to people who are housed in them as of the date of issuance of Decree 297.
  29. Minimum staffing necessary for the operation of the Argentine Aircraft Factory Brig. San Martin S.A.
  30. The authorities of the Securities Exchange Commission (Comisión Nacional de Valores) may authorize the activity of a minimum staffing and that of its regulated parties, if necessary.
  31. Airport operation. Garage and parking operations, with minimum provisions.
  32. Sustaining activities related to mining environmental protection.
  33. Tanneries, with a minimum endowment, for the reception of leather from the refrigeration activity.
  34. Restaurants, prepared food places and fast food places, may sell their product through home delivery services, subject to the specific protocol established by the health authority. In no case can they provide customer service.
  35. Ministers of different religions to provide spiritual support.

It is important to point out that both the Federal Executive Branch and the Chief of Staff can either extend or reduce the number of exceptions during the time that the quarantine lasts. There exceptions, in principle, should be general and not particular exceptions to specific individuals or legal entities.

  1. How to instrument or manage exceptions

Any individual included in the list of exceptions, in order to be able to circulate, will be obliged to obtain the “Unique Certificate for Circulation – Emergency COVID – 19” which is personal and non-transferable in accordance with the provisions of Resolution MI 48/2020 and of Administrative Decision of the Chief of Ministers Nbr. 446/20. This certificate must be presented to the competent authority when circulating on public roads together with the individual’s ID. The certificate must be downloaded through the TAD platform, entering into the website: https://tramitesadistancia.gob.ar/[1]. Originally, the certificate was valid for seven calendar days and could be renewed but as of the issuance of AD 446, the validity of the certificate was extended for all the term during which the Precautionary and Mandatory Social Isolation remains effective. Additionally, the authorizations for circulating on public roads issued with a different format than the one of the aforementioned certificate will not be valid as of April 6, 2020.

It will not be necessary to obtain the aforementioned certificate in the cases listed in points 2,3,4,5,8,9,13,14,15,16,17,18,21,24 and 27 of the activities listed in the previous chapter. Regarding said activities, the enforcement authority of each activity will establish the way in which the exemption shall be evidenced. It will not be necessary to obtain the certificate in an event of force majeure.

Besides, there are certain other cases in which in order to be included in the exceptions and being exempted from mandatory isolation, an express authorization by a competent authority is required. In this group of activities, perhaps the most relevant situation is that foreseen in AD 429 related to industries that carry out “continuous processes” which interruption involves structural damage to production lines and / or machinery. These industries, to be exempted, must request and obtain authorization from the Ministry of Industry, Economy of Knowledge and External Commercial Management, making a specific filing for such purposes. Also, the Securities Exchange Commission can issue certain specific authorizations for those who operate under its jurisdiction. In these cases, the corresponding request of exception must be filed before the relevant authority, and then the “Unique Certificate for Circulation must be obtained.

Finally, in order to request the inclusion of an activity or sector that has not been included in the list of legal exemptions a duly founded filing will have to be submitted to the Chief of Ministers, which is the competent authority to extend or reduce the list of exemptions. AD 429 constitutes a good precedent regarding the possibility of the government authorizing to enlarge the list of exceptions. Any unfounded refusal, or administrative silence to such request, could enable legal actions, which feasibility and chances should be analysed in each specific case.

  • People not eligible for the exceptions

Those persons included in the provisions of article 7 of the Decree Nbr. 260/2020 (the “Decree 260”) issued by the Federal Executive Branch, must necessarily comply with the Precautionary and Mandatory Social Isolation during the 14 days term of isolation imposed by Decree 260 even if included in the exceptions of Decree 297.

Those people are:

  1. Those that are considered “suspicious cases”, which consist of every individual who has a fever and one or more breathing symptoms (cough, sore throat, or respiratory distress) and who also, in the recent days, had travelled to “affected areas” or have been in contact with confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19. The definition may by modified by the health authority, depending on the epidemiological evolution.
  2. Those who have medical confirmation of having contracted COVID – 19.
  3. The “close contacts” of the persons included in sections a) and b) above.
  4. Those who arrive in the country having passed through “affected areas”.
  5. Those who have arrived in the country in the last 14 days prior to March 12th, 2020, having passed through “affected areas”.

Therefore, every individual included in the list above is obliged to comply with the Precautionary and Mandatory Social Isolation for the term of 14 days, even if they are exempted in the terms of Decree 297.

[1] In order to know how the TAD platform works, we suggest visiting the User Manual available at https://tramitesadistancia.gob.ar/ManualUsuario.pdf or the instructions available at https://tramitesadistancia.gob.ar/ayuda.html#3