Overview of legal measures as of 20 April 2020 as response to the coronavirus. Please note: Due to the extraordinary situation, the legislation is in continuous evolution and may change very fast.
Argentina adopts a representative, republican and federal democratic form of government from the first Constitution of 1853 to the current Constitution.
Due to its federal character, Argentina has two government structures: The National or Federal Government; 23 provincial governments plus the Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, each of which are considered autonomous, pre-existing to the Nation and exercise all powers not expressly delegated to the federal government.
According to the text of the National Constitution in its art. 99 subsection 3 in relation to the attributions of the Executive Power headed by the President of the Nation
“He takes part in the making of laws according to the Constitution, promulgates them and publishes them.
The Executive Power shall in no event issue provisions of legislative nature, in which case they shall be absolutely and irreparably null and void.
Only when due to exceptional circumstances the ordinary procedures foreseen by this Constitution for the enactment of laws are impossible to be followed, and when rules are not referred to criminal issues, taxation, electoral matters, or the system of political parties, he shall issue decrees on grounds of necessity and urgency, which shall be decided by a general agreement of ministers who shall countersign them together with the Cabinet Chief.
Within the term of ten days, the Cabinet Chief shall personally submit the decision to the consideration of the Joint Standing Committee of Congress, which shall be composed of according to the proportion of the political representation of the parties in each House. Within the term of ten days, this committee shall submit its report to the plenary meeting of each House for its specific consideration and it shall be immediately discussed by both Houses. A special law enacted with the absolute majority of all the members of each House shall regulate the procedure and scope of Congress participation”
In exercise of these powers and in view of the emergency declaration produced by the pandemic declared as a result of the coronavirus, multiple regulations have been issued to mitigate the consequences in health and economy caused by the situation.
In consequence, and in accordance with the provisions enacted by the Executive Power of the Nation, the different provincial governments, entities that make up the national public administration and the Judiciary have issued resolutions regarding their different powers and activities.
1. INTERVENTIONS AND RESTRICTIONS
1.1 Legal basis
EMERGENCY DECREE 260/2020
One of the first measures from the Government to cope with the pandemic was to extend for a year the declaration of public emergency for public health reasons. EMERGENCY DECREE 260/2020 also declared the mandatory quarantine for 14 days for those persons who described as “suspected cases”.
International flights from “affected zones” were also suspended. Finally, the decree sets for the suspension of all kinds of massive events.
The executive power established the prohibition to enter the national territory for residents and non-resident in Argentina by any means and access routes except to people linked to international trade operations for the transport of cargoes of merchandise, carriers and crew of containers and aircraft, people affected by the operation of flights and medical transfers.
Each Chancellery will adopt the pertinent measures to attend to the basic needs of Argentine residents until they can return to the country.
1.3 Preventive and mandatory social isolation
The EMERGENCY DECREE 297/2020 established the preventive and mandatory social isolation as from 20th of March until 31st of March of 2020.
This month Decrees No. 325/2020 and 335/2020 extended the isolation until 12 April and 26 April 2020 respectively.
People shall remain at their residences, refrain from commuting to their workplaces and will not be able to move at routes, roads and public spaces. They can only leave home for essential reasons and for the procurement of food, cleaning products and medicine.
People who perform activities and services declared as essential during the emergency are exempted from the isolation and the prohibition to circulate.
These people should have a special permit, which can be obtained digitally through the means enabled by each jurisdiction.
1.4 Essential Services and Activities
Workers affected by activities and services declared as essential are exempted from complying with the preventive and mandatory isolation but their displacements are limited to the strict fulfilment of those activities. (Decree N° 297/20 and Administrative Decision N° 429/20)
By the issuance of Administrative Decision No. 450/2020, the Argentine government also extended the list of activities and services determined as essential during coronavirus health emergency and includes some industries as building materials and supplies, nuclear fuels, fumigation and foreign trade among others.
In accordance with the recommendations of the health authorities, the body defines the suspension of the teaching of face-to-face classes at the initial, primary, secondary levels in all its modalities, and higher education institutes, as long as the period of preventive and compulsory social isolation lasts.
Educational establishments must remain open to maintain the development of administrative activities, the coordination of social services and the pedagogical activities that are scheduled for this particular period.
The dining rooms will be replaced by deliveries of food. It will work in distance education activities. The cleaning and disinfection of buildings, furniture and equipment will be intensified to guarantee protocolized health and safety measures. (Resolution 108/2020)
In this context, public and private schools have continued with online classes through digital platforms such as Zoom, Skype, etc.
1.6 Health care
Daily reports of the coronavirus situation: The Ministry of Health makes available to all citizens the daily reports of the situation of the coronavirus in Argentina (number of new and deceased cases due to jurisdiction, of which are imported, which are by close contacts, which are cases of community circulation and how many are under epidemiological investigation). The information is available at https://www.argentina.gob.ar/coronavirus/informe-diario
Specific fund of 1.7 billion pesos: To strengthen the response the country against the spread of the new coronavirus, a special fund was created that It will allow acquiring laboratory and hospital equipment.
Invasive mechanical ventilators: The manufacturing, distribution or marketing companies of invasive mechanical ventilators may not deliver units without prior express authorization from the MINISTRY OF HEALTH, regardless of the existence of a purchase order, contract or obligation of any nature that the aforementioned have contracted.
Contingency plan for training in intensive care: The trainings are in charge of the Argentine Society of Intensive Care (SATI) for health personnel who work in the management of the critically ill patient and the ventilator, septic shock, adult respiratory distress, intubation and extubation. (Res. N° 695/2020)
Mandatory use of face masks: Different districts established through ordinances the mandatory use of face masks on public roads as well as the obligation to maintain 1.5 meters of distance between people.
1.7 Persons with a higher risk
Res. 627/2020 issued by Ministry of Health considers as people included in the risk group those with chronic respiratory diseases, chronic heart diseases, diabetic patients, persons with chronic kidney failure, and cancer patients, among others.
Also, people over 60 years old and groups at risk are exempt from attending their workplaces. In the national public sector, all agents are authorized to carry out tasks from their homes, with the exception of those who provide essential services. In the private sector, companies are recommended to take measures to enable remote work. (Res. 207/2020)
In accordance with Article N ° 22 of Decree N ° 260/2020, anyone who violates the norms established by the national authority will receive sanctions that are applicable according to the current regulations, without prejudice to the corresponding criminal complaints to determine the possible commission of crimes of public action, in accordance with the provisions of articles 205, 239 and concordance of the National Penal Code
2.1 Legal basis
The Federal Administration of Public Revenue (AFIP) extended the fiscal holidays until April 26, inclusive, coinciding with the extension of the preventive and compulsory social isolation provided by the national government. During this time the terms established in the procedures in course before AFIP linked to the application, collection and supervision of the taxes in their charge will not be computed.
2.2 Support measures
AFIP has also issued several resolutions and measures to related the Covid-19 among the most important are:
TAX General Resolution (GR) AFIP 4686/2020 SIRADIG: The filing of Form 572 Web for the purpose of workers reporting the concepts to be deducted from Income Tax for the period 2019 may be performed until April 30, 2020 (prior to the GR, the obligation expired on March 31, 2020).
GR AFIP 4685/2020: The compulsory use of the service with the tax code “Digital Presentations” was arranged for all communications and procedures to be carried out with the AFIP from March 20, 2020 to June 30, 2020.
GR AFIP 4684/2020: The suspension of the precautionary measures corresponding to those corporations that have the quality of Micro, Small and Medium Companies is extended until April 30, 2020.
GR AFIP 4683/2020: Extends until June 30, 2020 the transitory validity corresponding to the plans of admissible payment facilities, number of installments and applicable financing interest rate.
Decree 300/2020: 95% reduction in employer contributions in relation to employers belonging to health-related services, establishments and institutions for a period of 90 days to be counted as from March 20, 2020. Rate of 2.50/1000 for credits and debits in current account in the case of employers corresponding to establishments and institutions related to health for a period of 90 days from March 20, 2020
3. LABOUR REGULATIONS
Package of important measures for the integral protection of work. Among the most important we can mention:
Res. 219/2020 Ministry of Labor and Social Security: Workers with tasks that can be performed from isolation will be exempted from commuting to their workplaces. Workers and employers will agree the way in which the tasks will be carried out. Those working under this modality will receive their regular remuneration. In those cases where it is not possible, the workers will receive the amounts received will be deemed as non-remunerative except contributions to the national social security and contributions for the retirement and pension,
Res. 207/2020 Ministry of Labor and Social Security: It provides for a paid leave for those people in the risk groups as defined by the national sanitary authority. It also grants licenses to those agents in the public and private sector with minor children (the license is granted only to one of the persons in charge of the child).
Res. 25/2020 Superintendence of Labor Risks: Suspension of all recursive administrative terms for the proceedings in course before the Superintendence of Labor Risks by reason of the sanitary emergency as from March 16 and for a term of 30 administrative working days.
Decree 329/2020: establishes the prohibition of dismissals without just cause and for the reasons of lack or reduction of work and force majeure for the period of 60 days to be counted from April 1, 2020.
Decree 332/2020: establishes different measures such as
postponement or reduction of up to 95% of the payment of employer contributions to the Argentine Integrated Social Security System
Compensatory Allocation to the Salary: Allocation paid by the State for all the workers in dependency relation of the private sector, for companies of up to 100 workers.
REPRO Assistance for the Health Emergency: Non-contributory sum with respect to the Argentine Integrated Social Security System paid by the State for workers in dependence on the private sector for companies with up to 100 workers
4.1 Shareholders meetings and other meetings of companies
Resolution No. 11/2020 (the “Resolution”) of the Public Registry of Commerce (“PRC”) amends sections 84 and 360 of PRC General Resolution 7/2015 with regards to board or shareholders meetings held remotely.
The impossibility for people to meet personally, affects companies directly as it may lead to the cessation of the activities of the corporate bodies. The resolution establishes that while the movement restrictions are in force as a consequence of the health emergency and its eventual postponements, board or shareholders meetings of companies, civil associations or foundations may be held remotely by electronic means and digital platforms, when these are held taking all reasonable precautions even in those cases in which the bylaws do not allow them.
After the emergency period, board or shareholders meetings held remotely by electronic means and digital platforms will only be permitted for those companies whose bylaws allow them in accordance with the new wording of sections 84 or 360 of General Resolution 7/2015.
6. LEASE AGREEMENTS AND MORTGAGE LOANS
ED 319/2020: It freezes the value of the instalments of mortgage credits for properties used as only residence, using values of March 202 and the value of the instalments of UVA (buying power unit) pledge credits.
It suspends evictions on properties used as only residence and evictions related to UVA pledge credits.
Debts for non-payment will be repaid as from October and in three instalments, only including compensatory interests, without any penalties.
ED 320/2020: The decree sets for (i) suspension of execution of eviction judgements until 30 September 2020; (ii) the extension of lease agreements until 30 September 2020 (for contracts which termination was agreed before such date); (iii) Freezing of lease prices. All of these in relation to the following leases:
Properties used as only urban or rural residence.
Rooms destined to personal or family residence in hotels or any other similar accommodation.
Properties used for cultural or community activities.
Rural properties destined to small familiar productions and small farming productions.
Properties rented by people adhered to Monotributo regime (independent workers), destined to carry out their activities, commerce or industry.
Properties rented by autonomous professionals to carry out their activities.
Properties rented by Small and Mid-sized enterprises (MiPyMES) and destined to carry out activities, commerce or industry.
Properties rented by Workers’ Cooperatives or recovered enterprises registered on the National Institute of Asociativism and Social Economy (INAES).
At the same time, the regulation provides for an exemption for the owners that prove they depend from the lease to cover their basic needs.
Disposition 4/2020 National Supreme Court: it declares holidays the days from 16 to 31 of March of 2020 for the judicial processes before all courts in the National Justice, without affecting the process steps already accomplished or to be accomplished. The rule also establishes that the courts will provide minimum and indispensable services during this term, for which reason attention to public is suspended, except for indispensable proceedings. Grants a license to all the judicial power personnel included in the risk groups and in those courts where there is some suspicious or confirmed case of Covid-19. At these specific courts, all the employees have an exceptional payed leave.
Res. 514/2020 National Supreme Court: adoption of the preventive measures disposed by the National Health Ministry for the prevention of coronavirus (Covid-19).
Res. 106/2020 National Ministry of Justice and Human Rights: it suspends for the term between March 16 and March 31 of 2020 the mediation hearings under Law 25,589 in the civil and commercial areas.
Disposition 6/2020 National Supreme Court: declares an extraordinary judicial recess for the Federal and National Courts included in the judicial power from March 20 until 31 March, term that could be extended for the same term the Executive Power declares.
Setting maximum reference prices: certain products will maintain the value that each marketer reported to the Electronic System for the Advertising of Argentine Prices (SEPA) on March 6. (resolution 100/2020)
Comex measures: Prior authorization will be required for the export of medical supplies and equipment that the country needs to face the pandemic.
Reimbursements for exports: payment to export refunds for industrial firms will be accelerated.
Emergency Family Income (IFE) for informal and independent workers, between 18 and 65 years old, with the highest degree of vulnerability, will receive AR$10,000.
Assignment stimulus to health personnel (Decree 315/2020): The national government decided to grant professional workers related to health institutions healthcare services from the public, private and social security systems, committed to case management related to the COVD-19 pandemic, a AR$5,000 payment of an allowance encouragement for the effective provision of services, of a non-remunerative nature.