Bogota to Lift Quarantines as Shopkeepers Protest

By Sinikka Tarvainen, dpa

Bogota, Colombia mayor, Mayor Claudia Lopez

HAVANA TIMES – The Colombian capital Bogota is planning to lift its strict rolling quarantines, Mayor Claudia Lopez said on Monday, while protesting shopkeepers blocked part of the city centre, demanding the right to reopen their establishments.

“Today we shall propose to the Health Ministry that all of Bogota ends [the] quarantine this Thursday and starts the new reality in which we can work, socialize and study if we meet [the requirements of] self-care and hours,” Lopez tweeted.

She made the comment as small-scale entrepreneurs blocked part of the city centre, carrying placards with slogans such as: “They are killing trade,” and preventing buses from circulating.

About 58,000 commercial establishments – mostly small shops – have closed in Bogota during the coronavirus pandemic, according to broadcaster Caracol.

Colombia has recorded more than 540,000 novel coronavirus infections, the eighth-largest number worldwide. Over 17,000 people have died, and the peak of the pandemic is still expected to come in several cities.

The epicentre of the pandemic has been Bogota. Lopez said the occupation rate of intensive care units has now dropped to 77 per cent, making it possible to lift quarantines in the seven districts of the city where they were still in force.

All of Colombia is under a lockdown until the end of the month, though President Ivan Duque’s government has continued to reopen the economy.

The capital had imposed additional, stricter quarantines the timing of which varied from district to district.

The city hall now wants to increasingly reactivate the economy while introducing alternating working days and hours for businesses, according to media reports.

Numbers of shoppers will be limited by letting people in based on odd or even identity card numbers.

Not more than half of the capital’s 8 million residents should be out in the streets at the same time, Lopez said.