LatAm Daily Briefing: Colombia Extends Restrictions, Curfews; Mexico Reports Eighth Consecutive Quarter of Economic Decline

20 April: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

Posted Tuesday, April 20th 2021
LatAm Daily Briefing: Colombia Extends Restrictions, Curfews; Mexico Reports Eighth Consecutive Quarter of Economic Decline

Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires reopened schools on Monday on the orders of the city’s mayor, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. The announcement was made on Sunday, but in defiance of President Alberto Fernández’s wishes, who has called for educational institutions to remain shuttered until the end of April amid rising cases of Covid-19.“Every day counts” for students, Rodríguez Larreta said, and that the city government would adhere to a ruling by a city appeals court that supported the federal capital’s autonomy on the issue. "The justice system has just determined that, according to the autonomy that the city of Buenos Aires has, we can guarantee the continuity of face-to-face classes,” the mayor said.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro appointed central bank chief Roberto Campos Neto and seven directors to fulfill their fixed-term mandates on the monetary authority’s board. The appointments were made after Congress in February approved central bank autonomy that established fixed terms for directors that no longer coincide with the presidential election cycle. Campos Neto and directors Carolina de Assis Barros and Otavio Ribeiro Damaso will remain in their positions until the end of December 2024, according to the decree. Directors Fabio Kanczuk and Joao Manoel Pinho de Mello will serve until December 31st, 2021, while the other directors will serve a further two years.

American Airlines will reduce or suspend some of its services to Chile, Brazil and Peru amid the rise in Covid-19 cases. The reduction in the frequency of flights to Brazil and Chile is due to a drop in demand, and which is also expected to affect Peru. The airline had planned to offer daily flights to Lima from Fort Worth, but will not only fly four times per week, while flights to São Paulo from the same departure city and from New York, as well as flights from Miami to Rio de Janeiro, will be reduced to three per week, with flights to Manaus, which has been hit by a new variant of the virus, have been suspended until November 2nd.

Colombia has augmented its movement restrictions for citizens and extended nighttime curfews in its major cities until May 3rd in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19 cases. Entry into supermarkets, malls and banks will be according to the last number on citizens’ identity cards as a way of lessening crowding. The length of nightly curfews will depend on the severity of the outbreak and hospital outbreak in each city, with the highest occupation requiring that citizens stay in after as early as 8pm, according to health authorities. The country has now reported more than 2.65 million cases, while the death toll stands at 68,328.

Mexico’s economy has likely contracted by 3.4% during the first quarter of this year compared with the same period of 2020, according to preliminary data from the country’s statistics bureau INEGI. February’s economic decline was 3.9%, with the services sector suffering the sharpest slump, with 4.3%, and industry 3.1%, while March’s economic decline was 2.1%, with services suffering a decline of 3.1% and industry 0.9%. If the figures for the quarter are confirmed this would have been the eighth quarter of consecutive contractions, half of which were recorded following the outbreak of the pandemic last March, according to INEGI.

Peru has made mask-wearing compulsory in supermarkets and shopping malls. The measure has been announced following record numbers of new cases and deaths from Covid-19, with the death toll on Monday surpassing the previous record. The use of masks was already obligatory in the street but the new measure seeks to ensure that no customer enters an establishment without a face covering. Peru’s continued rise in cases led to new restrictions being imposed earlier this month, including extending the nightly curfew, confining residents to their homes on Sundays.