Argentines left their homes in droves as banks reopen their branches to give out government assistance. Thousands of pensioners and citizens who receive government welfare lined up outside banks to get their monthly payments. Branches, which have been closed since a nationwide lockdown began March 20, reopened Friday so that citizens who can't receive the payments on debit could receive the cash.
The long lines underscore some of the strains created by the coronavirus pandemic in a country in which less than half of the population has a bank account. About 4% of pensioners don't have a bank account, according to data from the pension agency Anses.
The banks will also be open over the weekend, April 4 and 5, so that people can continue to receive their funds, according to a notice published by the central bank.
The situation was overwhelming, central bank chief Miguel Pesce said in an interview with Radio La Red. We're facing a situation that's unprecedented around the world, there isn't a guide to handling this situation.
Argentina was one of the first countries in the region to put in a full lockdown, allowing citizens to leave their homes for essential tasks. The lockdown was extended until April 12 as the government aims to avoid full scale health crisis. Argentina has 1,353 confirmed cases of the virus and 42 deaths.
We're asking that only pensioners with an urgent need go to the banks, said Alejandro Vanoli, head of the state-run pension agency Anses, in an interview with local TV. We're calling for those who can resolve their needs online to use those channels.