Cinemas and theaters of Buenos Aires reopen their doors as Brazil struggles with the advance of the pandemic

BUENOS AIRES, Mar 7 (Reuters) – Argentina and Brazil are moving in different directions in the fight against the coronavirus. While Buenos Aires begins to resume its usual rhythm with the reopening of cinemas and theaters, the main Brazilian cities tighten restrictions and close again before a fierce advance of the virus.

The Argentine capital on Friday reopened its iconic Teatro Colón after being closed for a year and audiences are slowly returning to theaters after theaters opened on Wednesday with films like “Tenet” and “The Witches.”

But the situation in Brazil is quite different. Rio de Janeiro adopted new COVID-19-related restrictions, including a nighttime curfew, in an attempt to contain a deadly second wave of coronavirus hitting the country.

While Brasilia and Sao Paulo closed the cinemas, in Rio de Janeiro they remain open with a capacity reduced to 40% and time restrictions. But in many cities of the country measures were increased and bars, restaurants and shopping centers considered non-essential were closed.

The differences between Brazil and Argentina can be explained in the measures taken by neighboring governments to contain the virus. While Argentine President Alberto Fernández maintained stricter regulations, his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro relaxed restrictions, despite warnings from world health authorities.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned on Wednesday about the situation in Brazil due to the appearance of new variants and the saturation of hospitals due to a second wave of the pandemic.

Although the virus is not fully under control in Argentina and vaccination is slow, the outlook for Argentines looks more encouraging than for Brazilians.

“Today Buenos Aires is experiencing an exceptional situation when one reads that the rest of the world, in many places, even in the region, unfortunately has other characteristics and cultural spaces are closed. Hopefully we don’t have to do it here,” the minister told Reuters of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires, Enrique Avogadro.

The emblematic Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires reopened on Friday night after being closed to the public for almost a year due to COVID-19 with a series of concerts to honor the late Argentine bandoneonist and composer Astor Piazzolla, although it has not yet announced the schedule of his season 2021.

“It is very exciting to be here, not to mention at an event that commemorates the 100 years of Astor Piazzolla. I admire his work very much,” Nicolás Bello, a 45-year-old attendee, told Reuters in line with social distancing to enter the theater.

The opening of the cinemas on Wednesday after almost 11 months closed did not yet generate a massive influx of audiences, despite presenting premieres of films that had not been available in Argentina, such as “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Tom and Jerry.”

Claudio Mendez, country manager for the Cinépolis cinema chain, said they hoped that as vaccination progresses, cinemas will be able to return to normal after an incredibly difficult year, with a 77.2% drop in ticket sales. in the 2020-2019 comparison.

“It’s a situation not imagined even in the worst horror movie,” Mendez said. “We believe that as the vaccination process progresses … the premieres will begin to flow in a more normal way,” he added.

But the restaurants and bars in Buenos Aires are open with tables on the street and, except for the masks and social distancing, the scene looks at times quite similar to the one before the start of the pandemic, unlike the deserted areas of the main cities of Brazil.

(Reporting by Adam Ramsay and Lucila Sigal. Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia and Gram Slattery in Rio de Janeiro)

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