April 27, 2020 / 12:51 PM / a month ago

Argentina blocks commercial flight sales until September as part of coronavirus response

BUENOS AIRES, April 27 (Reuters) - Argentina has banned until September ticket sales for commercial flights, according to a decree published on Monday, in a new measure the government said is part of its coronavirus response.

While the country’s borders have been closed since March, the new decree goes a step further in preventing until September 1 the sale and purchasing of commercial flights to, from, or within Argentina.

The spread of coronavirus “does not allow certainties” for the end of social isolation measures, which would threaten commercial air transportation, the decree said.

“It has been understood to be reasonable to set September 1, 2020 for the purpose of rescheduling regular operations or requesting authorizations for non-regular operations of passenger air transport subject to the effective lifting of restrictions imposed on commercial air transport and operating modalities,” the decree by the National Civil Aviation Administration said.

Part of the decree’s aim, the government says, is to prevent airlines from ticketing flights that have not been approved by the government.

“It has been detected that some airlines are themselves promoting or by third parties, the sale of tickets for regular flights, without having obtained the respective authorization from this National Administration,” the decree said.

A spokesman for President Alberto Fernandez did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The South American nation had already closed its borders and blocked entry to foreigners from “affected zones,” including Europe, China and the United States.

Argentina has been under a national lockdown since March 20. The government, over the weekend, extended the quarantine until May 10, but said it had been successful in slowing the rate at which new cases double.

The country has 3,892 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 192 deaths.

Some activities are permitted in the new phase of the lockdown, including hour-long walks within 500 meters of peoples’ homes, with the exception of large urban areas, including Buenos Aires.

Reporting by Cassandra Garrison Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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