Medellin Adopts Employer-Employee Controls for Partial Reopening of Economy During Coronavirus Crisis
Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero announced April 24 a novel computerized registration scheme – unique in all Colombia — for all employers and employees in the construction and manufacturing sectors that are reopening for business on April 27 in the Valle de Aburra metro area.
Employers are now registering their businesses (and their employees) at https://www.medellin.gov.co/irj/portal/medellin/acceso-formulario-permisos-empresas while employees also are registering themselves at https://www.medellin.gov.co/medellinmecuida/.
With this computerized information, enforcement officials will be able to track and control movements to-and-from workplaces as well as limit use of the Metro public transport system only to people authorized to venture out to work — as well as those authorized for grocery, drugs and banking on “pico y cedula” days.
Companies that lack the new “Medellinmecuida” registrations will be shut down and fined, while individual persons lacking this registration likewise will be fined, he said.
In addition, registered companies that detect two or more cases of workers with Coronavirus will be shut down for at least 14 days, Mayor Quintero explained.
An estimated 800,000 people in the Medellin metro area are likely to make work trips starting April 27 — thanks to the restart of manufacturing and construction sectors as allowed by new Colombian government regulations, Quintero said.
To aid enforcement and limit potential Coronavirus infections, Medellin police will have a new cell-phone app that can read and determine instantaneously whether any person stopped on the street, on the Metro system or at work is authorized to be circulating. Likewise, the Metro “Civica” card used to access the public transit system can be read by the same cell-phone app, thus helping to limit potential crowding and cross-infections.
Any non-complying person found on these detection sweeps will have their “Civica” card deactivated — and if there’s Coronavirus symptoms detected on this person, then the employer’s business also can be shuttered.
While telecommuting is mandated by the national government wherever possible during this crisis, relatively Coronavirus-free bicycling options also are expanding with new dedicated bike lanes and every-10-minutes disinfections of the “Encicla” free bicycles tied to Medellin’s “Metro” system, Quintero added.
Simultaneously, “pico y placa” restrictions on vehicles also are being lifted to enable more people to avoid overcrowding on the “Metro” system, Quintero added.
Meanwhile, according to Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT), seven more sub-sectors of manufacturing are returning to work on April 27, including textiles and clothing; leather and shoe-making; woodworking; paper and cardboard manufacture; chemicals manufacture; metalworking; and manufacture of electrical equipment.
These businesses can stay open only if they meet strict, new Ministry of Health biosafety protocols including mandatory use of facemasks, workplace disinfection, worker health detection, removal of workers with symptoms, distancing rules and adherence to the 35% limit on mass transport capacity.
It’s up to local mayors and departmental governors to enforce these new biosafety protocols in coordination with Health Ministry officials and local and departmental health authorities, MinCIT Minister Jose Manuel Restrepo added.
These mayors and governors can shut-down any company or any industry that isn’t complying with these biosafety measures, he said.
On the other hand, companies that voluntarily decide not to reopen would forfeit access to multiple credit and financing programs created by the national government in response to the Coronavirus crisis, he added.
These industry/company shut-down rule provisions in the new MinCIT rules could for example help mayors to address fears about the health impacts of the partial economic reopening of construction and manufacturing sectors on April 27.
For example, Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez — who is publicly fighting with President Ivan Duque over the partial reopening — presumably could shutter manufacturing by citing her claims that the manufacturing industry in Bogota isn’t nearly ready to comply with biosafety rules on April 27. Nor is Bogota’s public transit system ready to accept a big surge of passengers, according to Mayor Lopez.