Strict quarantine to return to Bogotá

As coronavirus continues to grow in the capital, mayor Claudia López has announced stricter rules as of Monday.

Quarantine in Bogotá will return in phases.
Quarantine in Bogotá will return in phases. Photo: Alcaldía de Bogotá

Coronavirus is coming. As the numbers of coronavirus deaths and cases continue to mount both in Bogotá and throughout the country, mayor Claudia López has announced stricter rules beginning next week. From Monday, Chapinero along with seven other localities will enter a fortnight of heightened and tightened lockdown. This is in response to the UCI occupancy rate in Bogotá rising as high as 85% this week.

This means a complete ban on any activity from 8pm to 5am, total restriction of movement in each respective localidad and the prohibition of alcohol sales. All businesses will have to close, except those providing necessary items such as food and medicine. On paper, it seems close to the rules originally brought in for the simulacro and that lasted for the initial lockdown weeks.

What are the new restrictions?

Exceptions are largely the same as in previous periods of strict quarantine, so you’re fine with food and pharmacy shopping (only between 5 am and 7 pm) and you can go to the doctor (including EPS and private services) as well. Anyone looking after vulnerable people is also exempted. Again, it’s expected that only one member of each family will be allowed out. Exercise and dog-walking are not mentioned, so it’s unclear at present what these restrictions will be. As usual, there remains a lot of false information out there.

Read our latest coverage on the coronavirus in Colombia

How this will be actually enforced is hard to see. There’s been a widespread lack of adherence to the existing rules in recent weeks, and enforcement has varied widely between more and less affluent zones of the city. Locking down several sectors at once will require enormous numbers of law enforcement, surely leading to a corresponding lack of safety in other zones. 850 extra law enforcement have been announced, which will hopefully make enough of a difference.

There are also questions over things like deliveries. Will it be possible to order alcohol from one sector and have it delivered across the border to one in lockdown? 

Which sectors are being shut down?

Bizarrely, the schedule for locking down localidades has been mapped out already, suggesting that it won’t be responsive to actual case numbers. That said, the schedule is for the next six weeks, so it’s likely to be open to extensive change. Also, the first localidades to be locked down are not those with the highest case numbers – Kennedy leads the list but is in Group Two, Suba is second but in Group Three. The whole city has been placed on orange alert, so it’s possible that we will see some localised zones on top of this. However, with limited uptake of the CoronaApp, it’s hard to get precise details. 

Also, only fifteen localidades currently are in the schedule, so it’s unclear what will happen in Antonio Nariño, La Candelaria, Sumapaz, Teusaquillo and Usaquén. For the moment, they are all considered low-risk and thus not being scheduled. Given the high number of previous cases in Usaquén (1,620, twice that of Chapinero), it’s likely to face some sort of lockdown, and Teusaquillo has a similar rate to Chapinero so also stands a good chance of lockdown. Sumapaz might yet avoid it due to its tiny population density as the only fully rural localidad.

A small carrot has been offered alongside the stick of lockdown, as López also announced that vulnerable families will receive guaranteed handouts while in lockdown. Like previous efforts, it’s limited, as this applies only to 550,000 families and is just COP$240,000 – less than a third of the minimum wage. With so many people blocked from earning, this is unlikely to go far.

When are the lockdowns?

The full schedule of localised lockdowns can be found on the website of the mayor’s office (along with the full rules for lockdown), and currently looks like this:

Group one lockdown (Monday, July 13 – Sunday, July 26)

  • Chapinero
  • Ciudad Bolívar
  • Los Mártires
  • Rafael Uribe Uribe
  • San Cristóbal
  • Santa Fe
  • Tunjuelito
  • Usme

Group two lockdown (Monday, July 27 –  Sunday, August 9)

  • Bosa
  • Fontibón
  • Kennedy
  • Puente Aranda

Group three lockdown (Monday, August 10 – Sunday, August 23)

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Strict quarantine to return to Bogotá