Argentina's health authorities have decided that the wearing of face masks is no longer mandatory in any indoor setting, it was announced.
While maintaining all other recommendations regarding sanitary precautions, the Health Ministry issued Resolution 1849/2022 lifting face covering restrictions in any indoor setting such as public transport or banking offices.
The decision was based on the decrease in the number of cases and mass vaccination, it was explained.
Regardless of the broad measure, the federal government ruled that each jurisdiction will be able to adopt the pertinent recommendations according to its particular epidemiological situation and the planned sanitary strategy.
The mandatory use of masks was introduced in March 2020, just after the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While other jurisdictions have taken steps towards loosening the restrictive requirements, it was not until Wednesday's publishing in the Official Gazette that the National Government made any changes in this regard.
The Ministry argued that the impact of COVID-19 in 2022, occurs in the context of a population with high vaccination coverage and added that currently, after a new period of increase of cases, smaller than the previous ones, a period of sustained decrease of cases is evidenced.
As a result of the progress in vaccination coverage, the incidence of serious disease and mortality due to COVID-19 has been considerably reduced, regardless of the circulating variant, the Ministry went on.
The National Vaccination Campaign had reached until Sept. 6, 2022, ”a coverage of 82.5% of the general population and 81.7% of those over 3 years of age with two (2) doses of vaccine, and 46.7% in the general population and 73.5% in those over 60 years of age with the first booster, the Ministry also said in its Resolution.
Regarding intensive care beds used by COVID-19 patients, nationwide figures were below 75% occupancy, and the number of patients has been decreasing over the past 4 weeks.
In this new stage of the pandemic it can be affirmed that SARS-CoV-2 is a seasonal circulation virus and, furthermore, that natural immunity and/or vaccine immunity does not guarantee its elimination, therefore particular situations may arise where it is necessary to establish the use of masks”, the Ministry also argued.
A MercoPress correspondent in Buenos Aires saw local healthcare facilities were still requiring patients and visitors Thursday morning to wear a facemask, while staff at many local restaurants and bars continued to wear them despite the federal government's decision. Several cab drivers admitted they needed to wear them because prospective passengers changed their minds and told them to drive on if they are bare-faced.