Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires authorities on Monday announced it was stepping up measures to curb the COVID-19 outbreak by making face masks mandatory on public transit.
To publicize the measure before it takes effect on Wednesday, home-made face masks were placed on busts and statues in public places, highlighting the need to cover the nose and mouth, but not use medical equipment needed by healthcare professionals.
In the city’s San Telmo district, statues representing the beloved characters of Argentine cartoonist Quino — including “Mafalda,” “Susanita” and “Miguelito” — were among the first to don the protective shields.
“As of midnight Tuesday, the use of face masks is going to be obligatory for everyone taking public transit, and for everyone in a position that deals with the public,” Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta told reporters at a press conference, referring to shop owners, newsstand vendors and others.
“This is due to evidence that two out of three people infected with the coronavirus do not present any symptoms,” said Rodriguez.
Those who flout the new measure may be fined anywhere from 10,700 pesos to 79,180 pesos (or 165 U.S. dollars to 1,223 dollars), or risk having their businesses closed.
“Professional face masks must be available to the healthcare system. To guarantee that, the sale of N95 face masks is going to be banned to anyone who is not part of the healthcare system,” said the mayor.