Argentina to impose nighttime restrictions in bid to slow COVID-19

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Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Buenos Aires

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina said on Thursday it would restrict the movement of people in the country during night hours, in an attempt to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic during the Southern Hemisphere summer vacation season.

Beaches in the province of Buenos Aires have been filled with people in the first days of the year, many without wearing face masks or social distancing. On Wednesday, 13,441 new cases were registered in the country, up dramatically from 5,200 reported a month earlier.

"The measures are being drafted at this moment and will be published tomorrow," Santiago Cafiero, chief of staff to President Alberto Fernandez, said in a news conference after a meeting of regional leaders.

"There was agreement on the part of all the governors on the need to restrict circulation at night," Cafiero said, declining to offer details on the curfew measure. The measure is expected to be published in the official gazette on Friday.

Local media had reported that there will be a ban on driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., with provinces having the autonomy to amend the measure according to local economic needs.

Argentina, which began an early and strict quarantine in late March and has since been relaxed, reached 1,676,171 cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, with 43,976 deaths.

Latin America's No. 3 economy has been in recession since 2018. The pandemic has dramatically worsened the economic woes.

(Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Marguerita Choy)