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Other Norms 45

Published in Other Norms Written by August 25 2020 0

Colombia President Ivan Duque announced last night (August 24) that the national Covid-19 quarantine –which includes many current exemptions -- will continue through November 30.

The announcement potentially could trip-up Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero's new plan to lift "pico y cedula" shopping restrictions starting next week. Area Metropolitana de Valle de Aburra (AMVA, the Medellin metro council of governments) has yet to announce any decision on "pico y cedula" restrictions for September.

Meanwhile, as of September 1, the national quarantine evolves from “a system where we had exceptions to one of specific restrictions,” according to President Duque.

The more-liberal quarantine system arises because “we are in a phase where we have reached a kind of plateau [in Covid-19 cases] with a downward trend,” he said.

“We are no longer going to be governed by exceptions, but by specific restrictions, where restrictions will apply to events and crowds, where we will continue to advance in the opening of sectors with the protocols that have been established by the Ministry of Health,” Duque stated in a nationally televised address.

To combat the pandemic, Colombia has adopted tiered regulations for municipalities with low, medium and high incidences of coronavirus infections.

Under the new scenario, Colombia will have “very clear guidelines on issues such as national air transport, which we want to open much more quickly, but obviously with special observance in those highly affected municipalities,” he said.

In parallel, “we cannot relax, we cannot lower our guard and we all have to assume greater responsibility for self-care in exercising physical distancing” along with mandatory use of masks in public spaces and frequent hand-washing.

The modified scheme also will continue to encourage office workers to work from home in order to reduce cross-contamination risks, he added.

As for possible school reopenings, “very strict protocols will continue to be applied with the mayors and with the [Health] secretariats, so that it is a gradual process, thinking about the health and safety of children.” However, many schools and universities will continue to offer classes via internet rather than in-person.

As for restaurant reopenings, government health protocols will require distance-and-capacity limits and also encourage open-air service, he said.

“We are also advancing with more than 600 municipalities in an opening in many other services such as gyms,  and we will also hope to take steps very clearly so that inter-municipal transport is also guided by those patterns,” he added.

Published in Other Norms Written by August 16 2020 0

Area Metropolitana de Valle de Aburrá (AMVA, the metro Medellin council of governments) announced last night (August 15) that all 10 municipalities in AMVA are switching to a two-digit “pico y cedula” rotation starting Tuesday, August 18, all the way through Sunday, August 30.

The “pico y cedula” regulation applies to Medellín, Bello, Envigado, Itagüi, Sabaneta, La Estrella, Caldas, Copacabana, Barbosa and Girardota, according to AMVA.

The new, more-liberal rotation -- eliminating weekend lockdowns -- comes as the metro area is starting to experience a plateau in Covid-19 cases and stabilization in demand for intensive care unit (ICU) beds, now at 75% of capacity in Medellin.

AMVA credits Covid-19 plateauing to the “4x3” regulatory scheme that over the past four three-day weekends mandated a near-total lockdown of most citizens (most workers and all shoppers) -- paired with four days/week of shopping-and-errands privileges via the “pico y cedula” rotations.

Under the new scheme, people with cedulas ending in 0 or 1 can resume normal shopping-and-errands ventures starting August 18, with subsequent number rotations in following days (see chart, above).

Commenting on the new scheme, Medellín Mayor Daniel Quintero added that while AMVA is lifting the lockdowns over the coming two weekends, “citizens are expected to assume an attitude of responsibility, compliance with biosafety protocols and care for the elderly,” the latter group being the most vulnerable to Covid-19 mortality.

Caldas Mayor Mauricio Cano added that “our call is to maintain preventive isolation at home [that is, aside from pico-y-cedulas privileges], use the face mask, wash hands constantly and maintain social distancing.”

Mass gatherings and parties with family or friends “are prohibited, because these activities are the cause of further spread of the virus,” the AMVA bulletin adds.

Health Ministry Covid-19 Case Update

According to Colombia’s Health Ministry, Antioquia recorded another 1,751 new cases of Covid-19 on August 15 -- 960 of which were in Medellin – along with 55 more deaths, 29 of which were in Medellin. Since Health Ministry tracking began six months ago, Antioquia has recorded 60,873 cases of Covid-19, with 48,570 recoveries so far and 1,121 deaths.

As of August 15, 863 Covid-19 patients are in hospitals in Antioquia, 420 of which are in ICUs, pushing the ICU occupation rate here to 81%.

Nationwide, Colombia now has recorded a cumulative total of 456,689 cases of Covid-19 since tracking began six months ago, with 274,420 recoveries and 14,810 deaths.

Bogota has the most cumulative cases (158,674) followed by Antioquia/Medellin (60,873); Atlantico (60,542); Cali/Valle del Cauca (36,847); Bolivar (21,593); Cundinamarca (14,572); Cordoba (12,231); Nariño (11,273); Magdalena (9,915); Santander (9,608); Sucre (8,443); Norte de Santander (6,500); Meta (5,014); Tolima (4,327) ; Choco (3,439) and Cauca (3,222).

Published in Other Norms Written by July 17 2020 0

Colombia’s Health Ministry announced July 17 that because of recent court decisions, people 70-and-over now legally enjoy two-hours-per-day outdoor exercise privileges – not just three times/week under the Covid-19 regulations, but rather every single day.

Problem: Medellin simultaneously is banning all outdoor exercise by all persons – not just seniors – until Sunday, July 26 in the downtown Candelaria area (barrio 10) and until Tuesday, July 21 in the rest of Medellin.

The ban on outdoor exercise by all persons is just part of the new “orange alert” order here aiming to stifle a potentially overwhelming surge of Covid-19 cases in the next few weeks throughout Valle de Aburra.

While banning outdoor exercise, Medellin’s “Inder” sports-and-exercise promotion agency instead is now sponsoring Facebook Live exercise sessions so that people can enjoy supervised, coordinated exercise programs in the relative safety of their homes.

Meanwhile -- aside from Medellin -- the Colombian Health Ministry announced that “adults over 70 years of age . . . can develop physical activities, exercise outdoors and play sports individually for a maximum period of two hours a day, every day” -- or at least until a higher court eventually rules on the national government’s appeal, aiming to overturn the lower-court ruling.

People 70-and-older total only 7% of all Covid-19 cases, but they account for 50% of all Covid-19 deaths in Colombia and have a 40% chance of dying from the disease -- far greater than any other age group, Health Ministry statistics show. That’s why the national government has tried to impose tougher Covid-19 regulatory provisions on seniors venturing outdoors, where the chances of dangerous exposures to infected people are much greater.

Published in Other Norms Written by July 01 2020 0

The Medellin Mayor’s Office announced July 1 that it is intensifying biosafety inspections and shutdowns of retail outlets that fail to comply with strict controls designed to thwart Covid-19 infections.

Meanwhile, the Area Metropolitana de Valle de Aburra (AMVA, the Medellin metro government coordinating agency) announced June 30 that “pico y cedula” restrictions will continue on Friday, July 3 – Colombia’s second of three scheduled tax-free shopping days.

This means that in our metro area – including Barbosa, Copacabana, Bello, Medellín, Envigado, Itagüí, Sabaneta, La Estrella and Caldas -- only people with cedulas ending in even-numbers (0,2,4,6,8) can go out shopping on July 3.

On a related front, Colombia President Ivan Duque announced June 29 that shopping for home appliances, computers and cell phones at large-format stores -- on July 3 as well as subsequent tax-free shopping days -- must be done via internet rather than in-person, to avoid dangerous overcrowding. Pickup and delivery of such items also must be staggered over subsequent days in order to avoid overcrowding that otherwise could cause a spike in coronavirus infections, President Duque added.

According to the Medellin Mayor’s Office, “during the coronavirus contingency, 193 establishments have been visited to verify compliance with biosafety protocols” and “27% of the establishments have received closure measures until they apply corrective measures and comply with the [biosafety] norms.”

Medellin Health Secretary Andree Uribe added that special precautions must be taken for the upcoming tax-free sales days.

“It is very important to bear in mind that this process is one of co-responsibility, where citizens carry out all biosecurity measures such as hand washing, social distancing and the use of masks, and the retailers guarantee [biosafety compliance] in the interior [of the store], even when the capacity is 35%, which we have put as maximum for the entrance to the establishments,” she said.

Stores also must comply with Decree 0573 of 2020, which requires entry-and-exit controls along with data capture on every person visiting, which subsequently must be uploaded to the “Medellín Me Cuida” computerized data platform that aids contact-tracing and Covid-outbreak-avoidance.

As for shoppers, the Health Secretary urges people to “wear comfortable garments that are easy to clean and disinfect, avoid using accessories on your hands that make hygiene difficult, make frequent use of antibacterial gels, do not touch your face, avoid constantly adjusting your face mask and remember that social distancing is key, since using only the mask is not enough when the contact is close.

“Upon arrival at the store, verify that the establishment complies with protocols to enter, [including] requests for cedula and ['Medellin Me Cuida'] registration, temperature taking, shoe cleaning, disinfection of hands, close access to sinks, access control to avoid accumulation people inside and good ventilation. If you identify long lines or accumulation of people inside, [then] avoid entering.

“When you get home, remove your shoes, take off your clothes and wash them separately. Take a shower and disinfect the items you purchased.

“In the following days, be very alert to any symptoms and report them immediately. Also, continue to avoid close contacts,” the Health Secretary added.

Published in Other Norms Written by July 01 2020 0

Colombia’s Health and Transport Ministers on July 1 unveiled long-awaited aviation biosecurity protocols – hoping to spur more economic recovery, but also aiming to minimize Covid-19 infections for all future domestic passenger flights.

However, mayors and departmental governors get the final say on whether and when to allow any flights, according to the new protocol.

Neither Medellin's international airport at Rionegro nor the downtown Olaya Herrera airport in Medellin will allow any flights until all mayors in the metropolitan area agree that it's safe to restart -- even on a "pilot" test basis, as Antioquia Acting Governor Luis Fernando Suárez announced June 30.

Any future flights to or from Medellin's airports -- if approved by mayors here -- would be restricted to origin cities with very low levels of Covid-19 incidence, such as Pereira, Manizales, Armenia or Bucaramanga, he said.  Governor Suárez added that flights to areas with high incidence of Covid-19 such as Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena or Bogotá are absolutely out-of-the-question.

“The biosecurity protocol for the prevention of Covid-19, prepared by Civil Aeronautics and authorized by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection in Resolution 1054 of June 27, 2020, establishes the measures that must be adopted for the operation of the airports and airlines, from the arrival of the passenger to the air terminals of the city of origin until their disembarkation and departure at the destination,” according to the official July 1 press bulletin from Colombia's Health and Transport Ministries.

“In the technical meetings and analyses prior to issuing the protocol, the international experiences of organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Airports Council International (ACI), the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Latin American Civil Aviation Commission (CLAC), the Latin American and Caribbean Association of Air Transport (ALTA), as well as those of civil aviation authorities from China, Canada, South Korea were included. Concepts from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) were also taken into account,” according to the joint statement.

The new protocol includes many restrictions:

1. Passengers must arrive two hours maximum before the scheduled time of their flight, and with their electronic check-in ready, to avoid delays and congestion.

2. For exceptional cases of passengers who have not been able to check in previously, they will be allowed to enter and will be sent to the airline’s ticket module.

3. Passengers should only carry personal luggage, bags or small backpacks that can be kept under the passenger seat. The rest of the luggage must be sent to the baggage compartment in the plane.

4. It will be recommended to use the ‘CoronApp-Colombia’ application for all people entering the country's airports, with all the data completed. This allows the authorities to have information on the passengers about their health condition.

5. Only passengers and those who work in the terminals will be allowed to enter.

6. Body temperature measurement will be employed on all people entering an airport and on arrival of flights. Thermometers that do not involve physical contact will be used.

7. All persons, without exception, passengers and workers who are in an airport must use personal protection elements – that is, face masks.

8. Once passenger identities and boarding passes have been verified, they should immediately go to the boarding lounges, in order to avoid crowds from forming.

9. Those responsible for operating airports must disinfect and clean all areas, boarding rooms, public areas, among others, as established by biosafety protocols.

10. Boarding will not begin until the aircraft is fully ready for passengers to enter.

11. All airport users, crews and employees are obliged to respect the physical distance of two meters in areas such as counters, scanners and in the lines for boarding aircraft.

12. Inside the aircraft, no service will be provided on board, and travelers will be asked not to use on-board entertainment systems such as screens, mobile phones, among others. If possible, aircraft toilets should not be used.

13. Passengers and crew will wear face masks at all times during the flight. Likewise, passengers must remain seated during the flight.

14. Upon landing, the flight attendant will instruct passengers to disembark in an orderly and row-based manner.

15. All passengers must report to their EPS [health provider/insurance network] and to the airline if, during the 14 days after their flight, they present symptoms that coincide with Covid-19 disease.

Published in Other Norms Written by May 29 2020 0

Following a nationally televised address last night (May 28), Colombia President Ivan Duque signed “Decree 749” listing 43 industrial, commercial, educational and personal exemptions from the national Covid-19 quarantine starting June 1.

In addition, Transport Minister Angela Orozco announced during the same televised address that international flights to and from Colombia would be allowed starting September 1. Left unexplained is whether, when, how or which of the origin or destination countries actually would allow such flights, or which airlines would participate.

Under the new decree, people 18-to-69-years-old can now perform outdoor exercise three times a week for two hours per day.

Those 70 and older likewise can exercise outdoors three times a week, initially for 30 minutes per day. But this could expand to at least one hour per day following Health Ministry analysis of local or national Covid-19 trends and risks, as outdoor-hours-expansions recently have been extended to other age groups.

In addition, people can use these outdoor excursions for walks with pets, but “only one person per family” is allowed, according to the new decree.

It's still up to local mayors to extend controls such as  "pico y cedula" restrictions for shopping and banking trips. Medellin metro-area mayors likely will make final decisions on "pico y cedula" extensions or revisions this weekend, prior to June 1. But the northern suburb of Bello, Antioquia has already decided to opt-out of "pico y cedula."

Meanwhile, departmental governors and local mayors must coordinate with the Ministry of the Interior on any other possible exceptions following June 1, which potentially might be allowed in certain areas, such as areas without a single case of Covid-19.

However, “mayors with the due authorization of the Ministry of the Interior may suspend the activities or cases” allowed in the list of exceptions.

For example: If any municipality suffers a new outbreak of Covid-19 that might be tied to certain activities, then the Health Ministry will send a report to the Interior Ministry, following which “the Interior Ministry will order the mayor to close the respective activities or cases.”

The decree also bans operation of “establishments and commercial premises for recreation and entertainment, bars, discos, dance, leisure and entertainment and games of gambling and betting, billiards, casinos, bingo and video game terminals,” as well as “gyms, swimming pools, spas, saunas, Turkish baths, spas, sports fields, sports centers, mechanical amusement parks and playgrounds,” as well as “cinemas and theaters, sports and group exercise in public parks and recreation areas, contact sports or practicing together.”

“Religious services involving crowds or meetings [also] will not be allowed,” according to the decree.

According to Decree 749, here are the 43 activities exempt from quarantine:

1.Assistance and provision of health services.

2. Acquisition and payment of goods and services. A single person per family will be allowed to carry out these activities.

3. Assistance and care for children, adolescents, people over 70 years of age, people with disabilities and patients with special treatments that require assistance from trained personnel. When such persons must leave a place of residence or isolation, they may do so accompanied by a person who serves as support.

4. Activities due to force majeure or fortuitous event.

5. The tasks of the medical missions of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and of all international humanitarian and health organizations, the provision of public and private professional, administrative, operational, and technical health services.

6.- The chain of production, supply, storage, transportation, marketing and distribution of medicines, pharmaceuticals, supplies, cleaning products, disinfection and personal hygiene for homes and hospitals, equipment and devices of health technologies, as well as maintenance and support to guarantee the continuous provision of health services. Also included: operation of establishments and commercial premises for the commercialization of medicines, pharmaceuticals, supplies, equipment and devices of health technologies.

7. Activities related to emergency services, including veterinary emergencies.

8. Funeral services, burials and cremations.

9. The chain of production, supply, storage, transport, commercialization and distribution of: inputs to produce basic necessities, including food, beverages, medicines, medical devices, cleaning, cleaning, and goods of ordinary consumption in the population; laboratory reagents; food, medicines and other products for pets, as well as the elements and goods necessary to attend to the sanitary emergency, and the chain of supplies related to the production of these goods.

10. The chain of sowing, fumigation, harvesting, production, packaging, packaging, import, export, transport, storage, distribution and marketing of: seeds, inputs and agricultural, fishing, aquaculture, livestock and agrochemical products including fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and animal feed, maintenance of animal health, the operation of primary and secondary food processing centers, the operation of the commercialization infrastructure, major and minor irrigation for the supply of population and agricultural water, and the technical assistance. The logistics and transportation of the above activities will be guaranteed. Likewise, the maintenance activities of boats and agricultural or fishing machinery.

11. The face-to-face marketing of basic necessity products will be carried out in stores, warehouses, markets, wholesale and retail supermarkets and retail markets in establishments and commercial premises nationwide, and they may market their products through electronic commerce platforms and/or for home delivery.

12. The activities of public servants, government contractors, individuals who perform public functions and other personnel necessary to prevent, mitigate and attend to the health emergency due to the covid-19 coronavirus, and guarantee the operation of governmente services.

13.The activities of the personnel of the diplomatic and consular missions duly accredited to the Colombian State, strictly necessary to prevent, mitigate and attend to the health emergency due to the covid-19 coronavirus.

14. The activities of the military forces, the national Police and state security agencies, as well as the military and defense industry, and officials of the Attorney General's Office and the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences.

15. The activities of public and private service ports, exclusively for cargo transportation.

16. Maritime and river dredging activities.

17. The execution of transport infrastructure works and public works, as well as the supply chain of materials and supplies related to their execution.

18. The activities of the construction sector, execution of civil works and the remodeling of buildings, as well as the supply of materials and supplies exclusively destined for their execution.

19. The air and airport operation in accordance with the provisions of article 8 of the decree, and their respective maintenance.

20. The commercialization of the products of gastronomic establishments and premises, including those located in hotels, through electronic commerce platforms, by home delivery and by take-away delivery.

21. The activities of the hotel industry to serve its guests strictly necessary to prevent, mitigate and attend the health emergency due to the covid-19 coronavirus.

22. The operation of critical infrastructure including computers, computer systems, communication networks, data and information, whose destruction or interference can weaken or impact the security of the economy, public health or a combination of them.

23. The operation of call centers, contact centers, technical support centers and data processing centers that provide services in the national territory and electronic commerce platforms.

24. The operation of the provision of private security and surveillance services, prison and penitentiary services.

25. Cleaning and toilet services, including domestic service and laundry service.

26. The activities necessary to guarantee the operation, maintenance, storage and supply of the provision of public services of aqueduct, sewage, electric energy, public lighting, cleanliness (collection, transportation, use and final disposal, recycling, including biological waste or sanitary) and recovery of materials; of the logistics chain of inputs, supplies for the production, supply, import, export and supply of hydrocarbons, liquid fuels, biofuels, natural gas, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG); of the supply logistics chain, supplies for the production, supply, import, export and supply of minerals, and internet and telephone service.

27. The provision of services: banking; financial; payment postal operators; currency buying and selling professionals; operations of [lottery] games of luck and chance in the form of novel and territorial permanent bets; chance and lottery; transport of valuables; notarial activities and registration of public instruments, and issuance of urban planning licenses.

The Superintendent of Notaries and Registry will determine the hours and shifts in which notarial services will be provided, guaranteeing the provision of the service to the most vulnerable people and those with special constitutional protection.

28. The operation of postal, courier, radio, television, press and distribution services of the media.

29. The supply and distribution of basic necessities -- food, beverages, medicines, medical devices, hygiene, cleaning, and goods of ordinary consumption in the population -- under social programs of the State and private persons.

30. The activities of the interreligious sector related to institutional emergency programs, humanitarian, spiritual and psychological aid.

31. The production, supply, storage, repair, maintenance, transport and distribution chain of manufacturing industries.

32. Wholesale and retail trade, including the operation of shopping centers and real estate activities.

33. The activities of operators of payments of wages, fees, pensions, public and private economic benefits; periodic social economic benefits (BEPS), and those corresponding to the Social Security and Social Protection systems and subsystems.

34. The strictly necessary displacement of the directing and teaching staff of public and private educational institutions, to prevent, mitigate and attend to the health emergency due to the covid-19 coronavirus.

35. In accordance with the measures, instructions and schedules established by the mayors in their respective territorial jurisdictions, and in any case subject to the biosafety protocols established for this purpose, the following will be allowed:

• Physical activities and outdoor exercise of people who are in the age range of 18 to 69 years, for a maximum period of two hours a day.
• Physical activities and outdoor exercise of children over 6 years old, three times a week, one hour a day.
• Physical activities and outdoor exercise of children between 2 and 5 years old, three times a week, half an hour a day.
• Physical activities and outdoor exercise of adults over 70 years, three times a week, half an hour a day.

36. The carrying out of appraisals of goods and carrying out of studies of titles that have the purpose of the constitution of guarantees, before entities supervised by the Financial Superintendence of Colombia.

37. The operation of communal police stations and police inspections, as well as their users.

38. The manufacture, repair, maintenance and purchase and sale of spare parts and accessories for conventional and electric bicycles.

39. Public parking for vehicles.

40. Museums and libraries.

41. Practical and research laboratories of institutions of higher education and education for work and human development.

42. Professional, technical and service activities in general.

43. Hairdressing services.

Published in Other Norms Written by May 21 2020 0

Colombia Transport Minister Ángela María Orozco announced last night (May 20) in a nationally televised presentation on Coronavirus regulations that regular international passenger flights to and from Colombia will be banned through August 31.

The surprising announcement came just one day after President Ivan Duque stated that international and national flights -- except for rare emergencies and humanitarian repatriations -- would be banned at least through June 30.

However, aside from allowing repatriation and emergency flights, Colombia also continues talks with various air transport regulators and health regulatory officials on potential ways to reopen passenger air traffic, she said.

In the same televised presentation, President Duque and Commerce (MinCIT) Minister Jose Manuel Restrepo added that starting June 1 – in coordination with local mayors – shopping centers can start to reopen, but with maximum 30% capacity in order to avoid crowding and cross-contamination.

Medical specialties such as dentistry also would begin to reopen under strict health protocols from June 1, along with wholesale and retail operations (30% capacity limit), barber/beauty parlors (30% capacity limit) and other commercial operations.

On another front, Colombia’s Health Minister Fernando Ruiz announced during the same broadcast that new guidelines to contain Covid-19 have been issued for family homes.

Rationale: More Colombians are returning to work under biosafety rules and local mayor approvals, while children are now permitted to go outside three times/week and also will start returning to schools under alternating physical/virtual schedules in August.

The new biosafety guidelines “consider the new scenario, in which children can go out and some members of the household are authorized to resume work activities outside the home and must use means of transportation,” according to the Health Ministry.

The new advisory includes recommendations on personal washing, disinfection of the home and bathrooms, pets, prevention measures when entering and leaving the home and measures for users of private vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles.

"It also includes aspects at a psychosocial level such as the need to share domestic tasks and chores, free-time management and the balance of time in educational and work tasks and care-giver rotation,” Ruiz added.

In addition, the Ministry is developing new guidelines so that starting June 1, people 70 years and older -- and children 5 years and younger -- can start to escape quarantine for limited periods.

Published in Other Norms Written by May 19 2020 0

Colombia President Ivan Duque announced May 19 in a nationwide address that Colombia will transition from Covid-19 "general quarantine" to potentially less-severe, city-specific “health emergency” regulations starting June 1 through August 31.

Differences between “quarantine” and “health emergency” regulatory limits could prove to be relatively great in areas lacking Covid-19 threats. But regulations likely will be less liberal in other areas with greater relative problems and challenges with Covid-19.

For example: Mayors of big cities such as Medellin, Bogota and Cali likely would continue to enforce relatively stricter limits than those in rural areas, although “gradual reopenings” likely will expand to more economic sectors in both big and small cities.

Schools for example could start to offer limited in-person, physical attendance with alternating shifts -- along with mandatory masks and physical distancing -- perhaps alternating with “virtual classes,” starting in August, President Duque explained.

Likewise, libraries and museums could reopen with strict limits on total people entering, along with mandatory masks and other prevention measures, he said.

Meanwhile, all international and national passenger flights will continue to be banned through at least June 30, except for rare cases of emergencies or humanitarian repatriations, President Duque clarified.

However, President Duque also announced two days earlier in a separate nationwide address that international travel continues to be the most problematic. Therefore, it’s possible that Colombia could announce further bans or restrictions on international flights well beyond June 30.

One key reason: Such flights don’t depend solely upon Colombia decisions, President Duque explained. Rather, international flight health-protective standards and protocols must be developed in coordination with International Air Transport Association (IATA), various airlines, various airports, transport sector employees, the World Health Organization (WHO), various national governments and health regulators in various states or cities. What's more, Colombia might decide to have even tougher limits.

While Colombia’s national Covid-19 quarantine presumptively had been set to expire May 24, the new order extends it to May 31.

This means that metro Medellin and other big cities here are likely to extend “pico y cedula” shopping-days rotations for at least another week beyond May 24 – and possibly even beyond that.

Persons 70 years and older likewise will have mandatory quarantine extended through June 30, along with younger persons with pre-existing health conditions such as heart trouble and diabetes, President Duque said.

Public transport likewise will continue with a 35% capacity limit, while schools and universities will continue with “virtual” classes through all of June and July.

At least 80% of public employees likewise must continue telecommuting, while private-sector office workers also should continue to work from home whenever possible, he added.

Meanwhile, as of May 19, the Health Ministry had recorded 16,935 Coronavirus cases nationally, with 613 deaths and 4,050 recoveries.

Bogota leads with 5,934 cases, followed by Atlantico (1,923), then Cali/Valle del Cauca (1,883), then Bolivar (1,576), Amazonas (1,220); Meta (954) and Medellin/Antioquia (561).

Published in Other Norms Written by May 05 2020 0

Some 15 million Colombians could be freed from Coronavirus quarantine this month as a result of new flexibility measures for certain economic sectors as well as for some 800 municipalities that (to date) haven’t had a single case of Covid-19.

This "Covid-free-area" exemption potentially would include large areas of rural Antioquia -- but not in Medellin, nor its heavily populated metro-area municipalities.

So explained Colombia President Ivan Duque, Colombia Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz and “MinCIT” Commerce Minister Jose Manuel Restrepo in a 6 pm May 5 nationwide televised address.

Among the industrial sectors that can start to escape quarantine starting May 11: Automobile and auto-parts manufacturing, furniture manufacturing, clothing manufacture, machinery manufacturing, electronics manufacturing and repair, construction-materials manufacturing, marine equipment repair, vehicle diagnostics centers, industrial laundries (with home-delivery-only option), bookstores, office-supply stores and hardware stores -- and, in some 800 municipalities free of Covid-19, almost any other type of commerce (except for bars, billiard halls, discoteques, sit-down restaurants or mass events such as concerts).

However, the mayors of such Covid-free cities first must petition the Health Ministry and the Interior Ministry to allow such businesses to reopen, once these business prove that they are complying with the new biosafety protocols. Only following Health Ministry review would such businesses be allowed to reopen.

What’s more, over this coming week, the Health Ministry will be unveiling new biosafety protocols for many more industries and commercial operations throughout Colombia.

With these new protocols, mayors in many more cities -- starting May 11 -- can begin the process of reopening many more sectors, beyond the existing exemptions for manufacturing, construction, agriculture, food manufacture, freight transport, public services, supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals, utilities, public transport and safety.

These local mayors in Colombia will be empowered to open-up more businesses only if the businesses first meet new-and-upcoming biosafety protocols. In addition, such reopenings must not cause public transport to exceed the current 35% capacity limit designed to thwart Coronavirus infections.

Medellin, for example, is well-below the 35% limit today, at just 22% of capacity, Health Minister Ruiz revealed. Bogota likewise is only at 21% currently.

Beyond new industrial/commercial reopenings, personal reopenings are also starting May 11: Children between six and 17 years old will now be allowed to go outdoors for 30 minutes, three times per week, when accompanied by a healthy, low-risk (60 years age maximum), responsible adult, Ruiz added.

“Between May 11 and May 25, we are going to extend the mandatory preventive quarantine, but recovering productive and living spaces – and doing so with the responsibility of continuing to protect life and continue to protect health,” President Duque said.

“We are going to give other sectors the opportunity also to boost our economy and there we are going to have industrial sectors,” he added.

“Pico y cedula” restrictions in cities such as Medellin and Bogota thus will continue beyond May 11, but now will give people the option to go to bookstores, office-supply stores, hardware stores and pet stores, in addition to existing permissions for grocery, banking and pharmacy trips, he added.

Current bans on international and national flights will continue at least through May 30, as well as mandatory quarantines for school-age students, people with severe existing health problems, and people 70 years and older.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, here is the complete list of economic subsectors that will start to open following May 11:

1. Manufacture of furniture, mattresses and bed frames;
2. Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers;
3. Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products;

4. Manufacture of machinery and equipment;
5. Maintenance and repair of motor vehicles;
6. Maintenance and repair of technology and computer equipment;

7. Wholesale and retail trade of vehicles (including parts, pieces and accessories);
8. Wholesale trade of furniture and household goods;
9. Wholesale trade of machinery and equipment;

10. Retail trade of pet products;
11. Retail trade of construction materials, hardware, locksmiths and glass and paint products in specialized stores;
12. Retail trade of fuels, lubricants, additives and cleaning products for motor vehicles in specialized establishments;

13. Retail trade of books, newspapers, stationery, supplies and desks in specialized stores;
14. Laundry services for home delivery only;
15. Establishments providing vehicle maintenance services, appliances, boats, agricultural or fishing machinery,  as well as establishments supplying and/or installing vehicle spare parts;
16. Automotive diagnostic centers.

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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.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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