Argentina: Mandatory Social and Preventive Isolation Extension and New Exceptions
On 11 May 2020, Decree 459/2020 (the “Decree”) was passed, which extended the mandatory social and preventive isolation until 24 May 2020 inclusive and therefore, also extending until said date, the requirement that employees must refrain from attending the workplaces, with the exception made for individuals engaged in activities and services that have been declared essential during the emergency under the law.
The decree also introduces new exceptions to the mandatory social and preventive isolation and the prohibition to circulate, for the purposes of allowing industrial services and commercial activities in various areas, including the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires (“AMBA”, as defined below), subject to the prior approval by the authorities.
For such purposes, the Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires and the Government Chief of the City of Buenos Aires may request the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers to authorise new exceptions (which should receive prior approval by the provincial sanitary authority) and to indicate the safety and hygiene protocols that will be implemented (with the possibility to follow one of the protocols already authorised by the National Sanitary Authority – see Annex below). If the activity requiring authorisation did not already have a pre-approved protocol, than it should be presented with a proposal for such a protocol that includes, at a minimum, all of the recommendations and instructions by the National Sanitary Authority.
Additionally, exceptions will only be approved if the employer ensures the employees are commuting without using public transport, being able, for such purpose, to hire urban and suburban transport services and authorised vehicles, such as a taxi, rental car or similar, to the extent that only one passenger is transferred in each trip. In all cases, Resolution No. 107/2020, issued by the Ministry of Transport, must be observed, which provides, among others, the use of personal protection elements covering nose, mouth and chin inside the vehicle, a 60% maximum occupation of the vehicle and circulation certificate for each passenger.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, employees over 60 years old, pregnant employees or individuals included in the risk groups pursuant to the definition by the National Health Ministry (i.e. individuals with chronic respiratory disease; heart disease; diabetes; chronic kidney failure and on dialysis or with the expectation that they will start dialysis in the next six months; immunodeficiency disorders; cancer and transplant patients; and individuals with a disability certificate) and those whose presence at home is required for the caring of children and teenagers in light of the suspension of school activities, are excused from attending the workplace, even in the case of approval of an exception for their activity.
Attached is the Annex of Protocols Authorised by the National Sanitary Authority for the following industries: automotive and auto parts, electronic and electrical appliances, clothing, tobacco products, metallurgy, machinery and equipment, footwear graphics, editions and prints, wood and furniture, toys, cement, textile products, leather manufactures, tires, bicycles, and motorcycles, chemistry and petrochemicals, cellulose and paper, plastics, and by-products and ceramics.
Upon a recommendation of the National Health Ministry, the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers may, at any time, suspend the exception approved based on the epidemiological evolution of the disease and developing sanitary conditions.
To view the Annex of Protocols Authorised by the National Sanitary Authority, click here.
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