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Other Norms 52

Published in Other Norms Written by May 25 2021 0

Antioquia Acting Governor Luis Fernando Suarez announced last night (May 24) that while midnight-to-5-am curfews and booze bans continue from today through June 1 (into early June 2), “pico y cedula” shopping restrictions are now lifted.

However, mandatory mask wearing, social distancing and strict public/private health protocols will continue as long as the Covid-19 threat continues, he added.

The new move to lift “pico y cedula” restrictions (limiting daily shopping trips to people with cedulas ending either in odd or even numbers) came after consultations with all the mayors in Antioquia, Governor Suarez said.

The governor meanwhile urged all restaurants, bars and commercial establishments to enforce existing measures to limit the number of people inside such establishments in order to help thwart the spread of Coronavirus.

Colombia Nears 25% Vaccination

Meanwhile, Colombia’s Health Minister Fernando Ruiz added that the nation is nearing its goal of having at least 10 million people initially vaccinated by end-May or early June, with more than one-third of those having gotten the required two doses.

Colombia aims to have at least 70% of its most vulnerable populations vaccinated this year, with the latest “group 3” population (those 50 and older) just now starting to get their shots.

Published in Other Norms Written by May 17 2021 0

Antioquia Acting Governor Luis Fernando Suárez announced late this afternoon (May 17) that the current shopping and curfew restrictions aiming to hobble Covid-19 infections will continue for another week -- until at least 5-am Monday, May 24.

Curfews and booze-sales-bans will continue daily from 10-pm to 5-am, while “pico y cedula” shopping restrictions will continue on odd/even rotations, as in the past week.

Hence people with cedulas ending in even numbers (0,2,4,6,8) can shop on even-numbered days (such as Tuesday, May 18), while odd-numbered cedulas qualify for odd-numbered days.

Restaurants and hotels continue to be exempt from pico-y-cedula. All the other restrictions including mandatory face masks, social distancing and strict health protocols for public and private spaces will continue.

Suárez added that compliance with both personal and public restrictions will continue to aid the recent trend of declining Covid-19 cases.

Published in Other Norms Written by May 03 2021 0

Antioquia Acting Governor Luis Fernando Suarez announced just after noon today (Monday, May 3) that current travel and shopping restrictions will continue tomorrow (Tuesday, May 4) through at least Tuesday, May 11 because of continuing excessive Covid-19 infections.

Under the latest control scheme, “pico y cedula” shopping limits are reimposed on Tuesday, May 4, enabling trips for people with cedulas ending in 0 and 1, while those with cedulas ending in 2 and 3 can shop on Wednesday, May 5. On Thursday, May 6, people with cedulas ending in 4 and 5 can shop.

“Urgent basic food-supply shopping” is allowed on Friday, May 7 for those with cedulas ending in 6 and 7, while “urgent” shopping is also allowed for cedulas ending in 8 and 9 on Saturday, May 8.

Those with cedulas ending in 0 and 1 can do “urgent” shopping on Sunday, May 9, while those with cedulas ending in 2 and 3 can shop on Monday, May 10.

In addition to “pico y cedula” restrictions, curfews and liquor-sales bans are imposed daily from 8pm to 5am May 4 to May 6, then continually from 8pm  Friday, May 7 to 5 am Tuesday, May 11, according to the Governor.

As in recent Covid-19 restrictions, home deliveries of food and medicines are allowed, along with emergency and authorized trips.

Published in Other Norms Written by April 25 2021 0

Antioquia Governor Luis Fernando Suárez announced last night (April 24) that metro Medellin, the “oriente” region and the rest of Antioquia will continue restrictions on movements to Monday, May 3 because of overwhelming cases of Covid-19.

Curfews and bans on liquor sales will continue from 8 pm to 5 am daily to April 29.

Simultaneously, starting Monday, April 26, “pico y cedula” shopping restrictions only enable people with cedulas ending in 0 and 1 to make shopping trips.

On Tuesday, April 27, people with cedulas ending in 2, 3 and 4 can go shopping, while on Wednesday, April 28, shopping is permitted for those with cedulas ending in 5, 6 or 7.

On Thursday, April 29, shopping is permitted only for cedulas ending in 8 and 9.

As for Friday April 30, Saturday May 1 and Sunday May 2, a total quarantine is declared-- except for essential workers -- although home-delivery of food and medicines is allowed, along with emergency trips and authorized trips.

On the morning of May 1, Governor Suarez further announced a new order that abolishes a previous order that had allowed "essential food item" trips on Friday, April 30 and Sunday, May 2 for people with cedulas ending in even-numbers. The new order likewise abolishes shopping-trip rights for those with cedulas ending in odd numbers on Saturday, May 1. Only home deliveries and emergency trips are permitted on those days.

Hospitals jammed with Covid patients meanwhile report a critical shortage of oxygen tanks, partly because some now-recovered patients previously receiving home care have failed to return tanks to oxygen suppliers, Suarez warned.

As a result, even more extreme quarantine measures are being considered for all Colombia, while Antioquia might extend the current, existing restrictions to May 10, he cautioned.

Published in Other Norms Written by April 18 2021 0

Antioquia Acting Governor Luis Fernando Suárez announced April 18 that starting tomorrow (April 19) the Medellin metro area as well as the rest of Antioquia will continue enforcing the same, existing restrictions on movements until Monday, April 26, to help stem rising cases of Covid-19.

Under the extended scheme, quarantines and bans on liquor sales continue daily from 8 pm to 5 am from now until Thursday, April 22, then a complete lockdown (except for urgent food-supply trips) takes effect from 8 pm Thursday until 5 am Monday, April 26.

“Pico y cedula” shopping limits will apply from Monday, April 19 for people with cedulas ending in 0 and 1. Then, on Tuesday, April 20, people with cedulas ending in 2, 3 and 4 can venture-out on routine supply-runs.

On Wednesday, April 21, people with cedulas ending in 5, 6 and 7 can shop, while on Thursday, April 22, people with cedulas ending in 8 and 9 can shop.

On Friday April 23 and Sunday April 25, people with cedulas ending in odd numbers can make urgent supply runs (only basic foods and medicines), while those with cedulas ending in even numbers can venture-out on Saturday, April 24 for urgent food supplies.

Medellin and Antioquia continue to suffer from an overwhelming number of cases of Covid-19, which explains the continuing restrictions, Gov. Suárez added.

Published in Other Norms Written by April 13 2021 0

Antioquia Acting Governor Luis Fernando Suárez announced that starting today (April 13) the Medellin metro area as well as the rest of Antioquia will enforce continuing restrictions on movements until Monday, April 19 to help stem rising cases of Covid-19.

Under the new scheme, quarantines and bans on liquor sales take effect daily from 8 pm to 5 am from now until Thursday, April 15, then a complete lockdown (except for urgent food trips) takes effect from 8 pm Thursday until 5 am Monday, April 19.

“We are in the worst moment of the pandemic,” Suárez said, adding that “the next two weeks will be the most complicated in occupation of ICU [intensive care unit] beds.”

“Pico y cedula” shopping limits continue from Tuesday, April 13, meaning those with cedulas ending in 0, 1, 2 and 3 can venture-out on routine supply-runs today.

On Wednesday (April 14), those with cedulas ending in 4, 5 and 6 can shop, while those with cedulas ending in 7, 8 and 9 can shop on Thursday, until 8 pm, when stricter quarantine begins.

For urgent supply runs (only basic foods and medicines), those with cedulas ending in even numbers can venture-out on Friday, April 16, and Sunday, April 18, while those with cedulas ending in odd numbers can make urgent food/medicine supply runs on Saturday, April 17, he added.

Published in Other Norms Written by April 01 2021 0

Colombia’s on-again, off-again mandate for all international passenger arrivals to pass a PCR test against Covid-19 is – yes indeed – on again.

In an April 1 official bulletin from Colombia’s Health Ministry, the Ministry now insists that all airline passengers must have passed a PCR test within 96 hours of boarding an international flight to Colombia, or else face mandatory quarantine here.

This in spite of the Ministry recently having won an Appeals Court decision last month overturning a prior lower-court order that had mandated PCR tests since January 2021.

However, despite that Appeals Court ruling, Colombia’s border control agency (Migracion Colombia) hadn’t abolished the PCR test mandate. Reason: Migracion Colombia had never received an official order from the Health Ministry to rescind the requirement.

New, even-more dangerous Covid-19 variants from Brazil, South Africa, the UK and elsewhere explain the new decision to keep the PCR mandate, according to the Ministry.

“Given the appearance of the new variants and the contact with people of different origins in closed spaces, despite the ventilation of the airplanes, this forces us to take extreme measures,” stated Health Ministry epidemioglogy director Julián Alfredo Fernández Niño.

“Due to the pandemic, we had had several administrative acts for domestic flights that were updated and also two for international flights. Now we are merging into one, with specific recommendations that go into effect on April 7, 2021,” Fernández added.

For example: Prior restrictions banning the use of on-board entertainment systems are no longer necessary if such systems “are properly disinfected” by airline personnel, he said. Additionally, blankets once again can be used aboard flights, “subsequent to disinfection, given that the evidence of contagion by surfaces is little,” according to the Ministry.

“On the other hand, some recommendations are maintained, such as passengers keeping silent while on the plane. Likewise, on flights of more than two hours in which people can eat, they must do so at intervals assigned by rows, to avoid having all people remove their masks at the same time.”

Another continuing recommendation is that all passengers wear surgical masks during the flight, and in the case of adults over 60 years of age, N95 masks are specified.

In addition, passengers must continue to update their “CoronApp” data for domestic flights and the “Check-Mig” data for international flights.

“The reason we believe ‘CoronApp’ is effective is because it now connects to the results of Covid-19 samples and reveals whether people have tested positive in the last 14 days,” Fernández added.

As a result, “travelers who have had positive tests in the last 14 days, have been in contact with a suspected case of covid-19 or have symptoms, will not be able to travel,” according to the Ministry.

A complete copy of the new rule (Resolution 411 of 2021) is now published on the Health Ministry’s website (www.minsalud.gov.co), explaining updates to Resolution 1517 of 2020 and Resolution 1627 of 2020 for domestic flights and Resolution 2532 of 2020 and Resolution 002 of 2021 for international flights, as well as Circular 007.

Published in Other Norms Written by March 24 2021 0

Irresponsible behavior including reckless partying and crowding expected during “Semana Santa” in Antioquia specifically and Colombia generally just prompted Medellin and Antioquia to impose “pico y cedula” shopping restrictions starting Thursday, March 25 through Monday, April 5.

Acting Antioquia Governor Luis Fernando Suárez Vélez first announced the new restrictions March 23, then on March 30 announced a further, additional ban on liquor sales from 5 pm to 5 am daily March 31 through April 5, matching a new 5 pm-5 am curfew (except for work commutes and required travels).

 Even before Semana Santa started, Medellin and Antioquia had seen a doubling of Covid-19 daily cases in recent days as too many people foolishly believe that the recent, relatively slow arrival of vaccination campaigns automatically lessens the threat of infections, Governor Suarez pointed out in a press statement.

As a result, “pico y cedula” is being reimposed for routine shopping trips from March 25 through April 5, meaning that people with cedulas ending in odd numbers can shop on odd-numbered days, while those with even-number-ending cedulas can shop on even-numbered days.

However, “the restriction of ‘pico y cedula’ does not apply to enter hotels and restaurants, nor does it apply to go to medical services, to purchase medicines or to attend church services during Holy Week,” although hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, restaurants, hotels and houses of worship still must require face masks and minimum social distances.

Meanwhile, hospital intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy is on a dangerous rise -- now exceeding 80% -- prompting yet another hospital “red alert” for Antioquia, Governor Suárez added.

In addition to “pico y cedula” restrictions, Antioquia also is imposing a curfew from midnight until 5 am daily through April 5.

To avoid fines, people traveling to-or-from their jobs during curfew hours must carry a company card or letter from their employer, while those venturing to an airport for an early-hours flight likewise must show their boarding pass or reservation.

During Semana Santa, “family reunions with more than four or five people are not convenient and the massive departure of people from the metropolitan area to other municipalities on the occasion of Holy Week is not convenient,” Governor Suárez added.

A big surge in infections arising from Semana Santa also would further complicate Covid-19 vaccinations, he warned.

“The biggest challenge that Antioquia has in vaccination will be in April, as tentative figures that we have indicate that between 900,000 and 1 million vaccines will arrive here -- and vaccinating during a high peak of Covid makes the process more complex,” Suárez said.

Antioquia aims to vaccinate about 80,000 people daily during April, he added.

To date, 100% of front-line health workers here have received at least their first shot of Covid-19 vaccine, while the 80-and-over population vaccination rate is at about 80% so far.

In all, Antioquia to date has administered 85% of the 238,971 doses of vaccines it has received from the national “MiVacuna” program organized by the Health Ministry, he added.

Published in Other Norms Written by March 16 2021 0

Colombia President Ivan Duque and Commerce Minister José Manuel Restrepo jointly announced March 15 in a nationally televised address that Colombia has just expanded and improved investment opportunities for new and existing free-trade zones.

“Through Decree 278 of March 15, 2021, the competitiveness of this investment promotion instrument in the country will be improved,” according to a Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT) press bulletin accompanying the announcement.

Among the benefits in the new decree: a 15% reduction in up-front-costs for those investing in such zones.

In all Colombia, Antioquia is the nation's single biggest exporter, hence the new rule would open even more opportunities for foreign and domestic investors.

According to Minister Restrepo, “with this structural advance in the regime, the government contributes to positioning the country at the forefront in the hemisphere for attracting investment, by having a modern instrument that today includes 120 free-trade zones.”

Of those 120, 41 are permanent zones and 79 are “special” zones, of which the term limits have have been extended for five years.

To date, Colombia’s free-trade zone scheme has generated more than 136,000 jobs and attracted COP$48 trillion (US$13.5 billion) in investments in the last 13 years.

The new rules “enable the recognition of intangible assets -- in accordance with the current intellectual property regime -- as part of investment commitments, up to 20% of the new investment,” according to the Ministry.

“Electronic commerce is also allowed in free zones for users of goods and services, through the modality of postal traffic and urgent shipments.

“For new service projects, the possibility of reducing investment commitments is established if exports are made -- effectively channeled through the exchange market each year.

“Additionally, special permanent free zones for services are enabled to become permanent free zones, with the aim of qualifying users who provide services -- mainly for export -- such as science, technology, innovation, culture and knowledge, among others.

“Another novelty is regional development, since the minimum area requirement of 20 hectares is eliminated for the new permanent free zones dedicated exclusively to the provision of services in cities and municipalities with less-than-1-million inhabitants.

“Meanwhile, for new free zone projects located in municipalities with high poverty rates, the investment commitment is reduced by up to 30%. This possibility also applies to the request for the extension of existing free zones in municipalities with this characteristic,” the Ministry added.

Paperwork requirements for free-trade zone investment also is being slashed, to 24 documents (from 57 previously), while processing time is cut to six months, from 18 months previously.

“Additionally, the possibility was opened for the request of new free zones in all types of agro-industrial activities, as well as for airport and rail concessions, the latter subject to regulation,” according to the Ministry.

In addition, “the maximum term for the extension of both permanent and ‘special permanent’ free zones is equalized to 30 years, while free trade zones are allowed to add areas not adjacent to the originally declared space -- provided that said areas are found in the same municipality or in neighboring municipalities within the same customs jurisdiction,” according to the Ministry.

The new scheme “also opens the possibility for existing free zones to request the expansion of the economic activities for which their declaration was authorized,” the Ministry added.

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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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