Colombia started to lift the quarantine in Colombia on April 27 for some sectors of the economy including manufacturing and construction – what does this mean?
In this article, we look at how Colombia started to lift the quarantine, what sectors are permitted to resume work and we also look what Colombia plans to do for municipalities and regions in Colombia that are COVID-19 free.
Several Medellin Guru readers have asked about what sectors are permitted to work and how this impacts things in Medellín.
On April 17, we published an article “Coronavirus: When Will the Quarantine Be lifted”. When this article was first published, we expected to see some partial lifting on April 27 with some sectors of the economy slowly opened up.
And we were correct, as when the national quarantine was extended to May 11, on April 27 several sectors of the economy including manufacturing and construction were permitted to return to work. This means a total of up to 6 million Colombians are permitted to return to work.
EDITORS NOTE on July 28: Colombia is extending the national Colombia quarantine until September 1.
Colombia’s initial nationwide quarantine was originally ending on April 13 but it has now been extended eight times:
- On April 6, was extended to April 26
- On April 20, was extended to May 11.
- A third time was extended to May 25
- A fourth time was extended to May 31
- A fifth time was extended to June 30
- On June 23, was extended a sixth time to July 15
- On July 7, was extended a seventh time to August 1
- On July 28, was extended an eighth time to September 1
So, the national quarantine is now for 160 days.
The Colombian borders will continue to be closed except for the border with Ecuador opening on June 23 just for humanitarian transit of citizens and permanent foreign residents. Also, there will be no domestic flights during the period from June 1 to June 30. Domestic flights in Colombia resume in July 2020 on a trial basis.
Also, according to the Minister of transport, international flights will be restricted until August 31 with international flights resuming on with a pilot in September.
A new phase will begin from June 1 to 30 with the reactivation of museums, libraries and some other businesses. Also, starting in June, starts an “intelligent lockdown” that would allow the relaxation of restriction of movement measures based on regional conditions. These regional relaxation measures will be expanded “gradually” to recover productive life.
In addition, those over 70 will remain in isolation until. But guidelines will be released so that those over 70 are allowed to have some time outside, with precautions and limitations.
Lift the Quarantine: Several Sectors Return to Work in Colombia
During the nationwide quarantine from March 24 to April 26, many sectors of the economy continued to work including banking, food production and distribution, healthcare, pharmacies, supermarkets, some transportation as well as some restaurants and other businesses with delivery services.
Starting on Monday, April 27, the quarantine was lifted for several additional sectors, which enable well over 6 million people in Colombia to over time start to return to work. The sectors that return to work include:
1. Construction and Infrastructure
In February 2020, the construction industry in Colombia had added 209,000 jobs compared to February 2019 due to an increase in housing construction.
It is expected that up to 1.5 million workers will return in this sector to work on many construction projects that were halted during the quarantine, reportedly including over 1,900 housing projects in Colombia.
This is a very important sector of the economy that contributed about 15 trillion pesos ($3.8 billion USD) to Colombia’s GDP in 2019.
Manufacturing activities, along with oil production, are very significant for the national economy in Colombia.
Up to 2.4 million people are part of the workers in this sector that resumes activities. But not all workers in this sector will return to work initially.
In addition, reactivating the manufacturing sector is considered important, as manufacturing is needed to meet the demands of the health sector.
3. Textiles, Clothing and Leather
There are many small companies in this sector in Colombia. The textile portion of this sector employees 1.6 million people. A challenge with this sector will be reactivating demand.
Companies that use leather as a raw material for the manufacture of shoes, bags and other accessories also will be able to reactivate their work.
In 2019, this sector contributed about 3.8 trillion pesos ($0.96 billion USD) pesos to Colombia’s GDP.
4. Chemical Substances
The chemical substances sector is considered important as this sector contributes medical and disinfection products that are needed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, some companies this this sector are changing focus due to coronavirus. For example, Los Especialistas is changing its focus from pest to control to disinfecting spaces.
This sector contributed about 3.8 trillion pesos ($0.96 billion USD) to Colombia’s GDP in 2019.
5. Wood, Paper and Cardboard Sectors
Carpentry and factories that dedicated to the modification of wooden articles, except furniture, will return to work. The paper and cardboard manufacturing industry also return to work.
These sectors contributed about 1.6 trillion pesos ($0.4 billion USD) to Colombia’s GDP last year.
6. Metals and Electronic Equipment Sectors
Metal manufacturing is important as metal is needed for construction and also manufacturing. Companies associated with the metals sector contributed about 1.6 trillion pesos ($0.4 billion USD) to the 2019 GDP in Colombia.
In addition, workshops where parts for the automotive segment are manufactured will be part of the reactivation, as this supports the transportation sector.
Furthermore, manufacturing and maintenance of telephone and computers needed for telecommuting will be reactivated. The manufacture and maintenance of this type of equipment contributed about 0.59 trillion pesos to Colombia’s 2019 GDP.
New Sectors Permitted to Return to Work on May 11
Starting on May 11, several additional sectors will be permitted to return to work:
- Manufacture of furniture, mattresses and bed bases.
- Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers.
- Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products.
- Manufacture of machinery and equipment.
- Maintenance and repair of motor vehicles.
- Maintenance and repair of technology and computer equipment.
- Wholesale and retail trade of vehicles (including parts, pieces and accessories).
- Wholesale trade of furniture and household goods.
- Wholesale trade of machinery and equipment.
- Retail trade of pet products.
- Retail trade of construction materials, hardware, locksmiths and glass and paint products in specialized stores.
- Retail trade of fuels, lubricants, additives and cleaning products for motor vehicles in specialized establishments.
- Retail trade of books, newspapers, materials, stationery and desks in specialized stores.
- Laundry services at home.
- Activities related to the operation of establishments providing vehicle maintenance services, appliances, boats, agricultural or fishing machinery, according to the different modes of transport, as well as the establishments in which the supply and / or installation of vehicles spare parts.
- Automotive diagnostic centers.
These sectors are in addition to previously permitted sectors.
President Duque stressed that these new sectors will be reactivated gradually and in accordance with the biosafety protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and according to the particular conditions at the regional level.
New Rules for Workers in Medellín During Quarantine
Up to an estimated 500,000 people working in the construction, manufacturing and other new permitted sectors will start to return to work in the Aburrá Valley.
They will join about 300,000 other people who were still working in basic sectors such as healthcare, food and banking, which means that in the Aburrá Valley up to 800,000 people will eventually be circulating daily.
According to the mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero, it is necessary to take new measures for transportation, companies and citizens, to avoid crowds and outbreaks of coronavirus.
The companies authorized to restart work and their employees have new requirements to operate. And in case of non-compliance or having more than two members of their teams infected with the virus, a company will have a two-week shutdown similar to what was already done at Plaza Minorista. These are the new requirements:
- Each company authorized to return throughout the Aburrá Valley, must register on the Medellín Me Cuida platform, which has section for companies. On this site, employers must report their employees and the measures taken.
- Employees who are going to be registered in this platform must also register. Also, this new requirement applies to health, call center, service and food companies, which have not stopped work during this quarantine.
The data on companies and employees will be connected to an application that the police will have on the street to verify whether or not people are authorized to go outside. In case they do not have permission, they will be sanctioned.
Employees of companies are only authorized to go from home to work and from work to home. And if any citizen who works for these companies has coronavirus or is in contact with someone infected, they should enter obligatory preventive isolation.
Companies from all over the Antioquia department will be able to register in the database, in case they have personnel who are in the Aburrá Valley or have to come to the Aburrá Valley.
In addition, the Medellín Metro may only operate with a maximum 35 percent occupancy on its trains. That means, there may be more and longer lines to use the Metro system. Police at the metro stations check IDs for Pico y Cedula or to see if you are authorized to work. Also, buses have the same 35 percent occupancy rule.
Metro stations that are normally busier like San Antonio, El Poblado and Industriales are more likely to have lines.
Furthermore, in the Aburrá Valley, all companies in the new sectors with exceptions from the quarantine (manufacturing and construction) must distribute their employees in three shifts:
- From 6:00 am to 2:00 pm.
- From 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
- From 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Also, companies with night hours can operate without a problem.
Lift the Quarantine: Leaving for Exercise Now Permitted
Starting on April 27, when the quarantine was extended to May 11, a new permitted activity is to leave the home for an hour for exercising including walking, jogging or biking for those aged 18 to 60 years old.
According to the Mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero, this is limited in the Aburrá Valley from between 2:00 and 3:00 pm. So, you can now leave the home to practice individual exercise activities for up on one hour per day.
However, outdoor gyms will be closed and those who go out must wear a face mask and cannot go more than a kilometer from their home and must be alone, not with others.
This is in addition to previous quarantine rules where you can take your dogs for a walk and also go grocery shopping, to the pharmacy or to banks. But going grocery shopping and to banks is limited in Medellín and the Aburrá valley by the rules of Pico y Cedula base on your ID.
Also, starting on May 11, children aged from 6 and 17 years, will be able go out three times a week for half an hour a day. If they are between the ages of 6 and 14 they should do so in the company of an adult and maintain rigorous discipline including masks to avoid further infections. In addition, this is limited tobetween 2:00 and 3:00 pm in Medellín.
What About Municipalities Without Coronavirus in Colombia – COVID-19 Free?
A primary concern of Colombia is slowing the expansion of the coronavirus pandemic in Colombia. However, in Colombia there are over 900 municipalities and six departments (states) where no coronavirus cases have been detected after over a month of being under quarantine.
By rapidly putting in place measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, it appears that Colombia is being successful in containing the spread of coronavirus throughout all departments and cities and towns in Colombia.
We have looked at this in detail and found on June 14 in Colombia:
- 91.9 percent of coronavirus cases were in only 10 departments or states (out of 33 departments – including the district capital of Bogotá).
- 83.7 percent of the coronavirus cases were in only 18 cities in Colombia.
- Over 600 municipalities in Colombia out of 1,099 municipalities did not have a single coronavirus case.
In terms of municipalities in which coronavirus infections have not yet been confirmed with coronavirus cases, President Duque on April 20 said:
In hundreds of municipalities in Colombia, there have been no cases of COVID-19, so there we are going to promote a productive economic recovery but maintaining all the protocols for the protection of health and life.
Also, according to Diego Molano, head of the Administrative Department of the Presidency, is that the application of a mandatory quarantine should be different in the regions without “COVID-19”. Molano said on April 22:
So, in those regions without COVID-19, the isolation of older adults and children is maintained, but productive activity can be much more dynamic and not restricted in all sectors.
Molano further explained that this means that within the municipality they can have economic activity, but with a clear condition, “that it must be at a minimum distance of 60 kilometers from a COVID-19 municipality.” Also, that this is being coordinated by the Colombian government with local governors and mayors.
COVID-19 Free Municipalities Can Open
In the municipalities without affectation of COVID-19, all the economic opening will be allowed starting on May 11, with some exceptions: billiards, casinos and discotheques, churches, parks, gyms and sporting events.
This measure will only apply if the mayor expressly requests the Ministry of the Interior to reopen the sectors or activities that he deems pertinent and prior certification from the Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) in this regard.
To guarantee that the municipalities remain uncontaminated, the local authorities must implement biosecurity measures at their borders.
Once the existence of a case of contagion in a municipality by the INS is certified, the opening of economic sectors carried out should be automatically restricted and the quarantine reestablished in general for the affected municipality. So, municipalities that open up need to remain virus free.
Starting on May 18, Colombia started to lift the quarantine in nearly 200 COVID-19 free municipalities, so they can start to return to normal.
How Long Can the Colombia National Quarantine Be Extended?
The national quarantine policy used by Colombia was evidently successful in preventing the spread of coronavirus throughout Colombia.
However, Colombia appears to be starting to reverse course and is starting to lift the quarantine for some sectors. But unless every trace of the infection is gone, an increase in new cases is possible when Colombia starts to relax the quarantine.
So, if new cases increase after starting to lift the quarantine, will Colombia return to a more stringent quarantine? It may take 12 to 18 months before a coronavirus vaccine is available. Colombia obviously can’t keep a quarantine in place for that long.
Colombia and other countries in the world are facing a dilemma. Epidemiologists and health experts recommend that people must distance themselves from each other to save many lives. But implementing a distancing strategy with a quarantine locks down the economy with crippling economic consequences.
At question is whether a quarantine strategy is sustainable and whether it can be kept in place for as long as a year or more.
Medellin Guru’s Coronavirus Series
Medellin Guru has a series of articles about the coronavirus pandemic and the impacts in Colombia: Also, these articles are being kept up-to-date, as this is a fast-moving topic:
- Humanitarian Flights from Colombia to the U.S. and Other Countries
- Medellín Starts Free COVID-19 Tests on the Medellín Metro
- New COVID-19 Preventive Measures in Medellín to Contain the Pandemic
- Penalties for Violating the Quarantine in Medellín are Stiff
- COVID-19 Orange Alert in Bogotá: New Lockdowns in Bogotá
- Medellín Starts to Lift the Quarantine: Enters Smart Isolation Phase
- Colombia Started to Lift the Quarantine – What Does this Mean?
- Coronavirus: When Will the Quarantine Be Lifted in Colombia?
- Colombia Starts to Lift the Quarantine in COVID-19 Free Areas
- Colombia Quarantine: Nationwide Quarantine Extended to September 1
- Coronavirus in Colombia: Myth vs Reality – Current Status
- Coronavirus Hospitalization in Colombia: Myth vs Reality
- Are Medellín and Antioquia Winning the Coronavirus Battle?
- 20 Cities with a Major Increase in Coronavirus Cases in Colombia
- Colombia Coronavirus Death Rate: What are the Chances of Dying?
- Coronavirus: When Will Things Return to Normal in Colombia?
- COVID-19 Testing in Colombia: Realty About Coronavirus Testing
- Life as an Expat: During Medellín’s Coronavirus Quarantine
- Colombian Visa Process Changes: Due to Quarantine and Coronavirus
- Medellín Coronavirus Closures – What is Closed in Medellín?
- Pico y Cedula: A Restriction for Grocery Shopping in the Aburrá Valley During the Quarantine
- Pico y Cedula in Colombia: Which is Strictest Out of 5 Largest Cities?
- Medellín Quarantine Starts on March 20 for Four Days
The Bottom Line: Colombia Starts to Lift the Quarantine – What Does this Mean?
Colombia started to lift the quarantine in Colombia for some sectors of the economy, which permits up to 6 million people to return to work. And when Colombia starts to lift the quarantine for municipalities and regions that are COVID-19 free in Colombia, up to over 35 percent of Colombia could return to a more normal life.
By starting to lift the quarantine, Colombia may be heading down the path towards more of a mitigation strategy that protects those most at risk from the virus (the elderly and those with other underlying health conditions) while starting to free up the economy. We will find out in the future what happens after the current national quarantine is supposed to end on July 15 – will it be extended again or will it be relaxed even more?
The challenge facing Colombia is now how to open things back up in the economy without increasing the rate of infections.
We recommend watching carefully the number of new cases reported in Colombia daily. Each day we update our popular article about coronavirus in Colombia with the current coronavirus statistics. If we see a downward trend, it becomes more likely that the lockdown will continue to be relaxed.
Also, watch the COVID-19 testing numbers in Colombia. We update our popular article about COVID-19 testing in Colombia daily. If COVID-19 testing numbers continue to increase, this is a very good thing, as this will help identify more of those who are infected in Colombia.
Ideally, testing could be used to check not only everyone who has symptoms but also their close contacts, so they could be identified as infected, isolated or quarantined as well.
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Editors note: updated on May 5, 2020 with updated coronavirus data for coronavirus free areas and added information that the quarantine in Colombia has been extended to May 25 and information about new sectors permitted to work on May 11.
Editors note: updated on May 8, 2020 with updated coronavirus data for coronavirus free areas.
Editors note: updated on May 10, 2020 with updated coronavirus data from May 9 for coronavirus free areas.
Editors note: updated on May 11, 2020 with updated coronavirus data for May 11 for coronavirus free areas.
Editors note: updated on May 12, 2020 with updated coronavirus data for May 12 for coronavirus free areas.
Editors note: updated on May 14, 2020 with updated coronavirus data for May 13 for coronavirus free areas.
Editors note: updated on May 16, 2020 with updated coronavirus data for May 15 for coronavirus free areas.
Editors note: updated on May 19, 2020 with updated coronavirus data for May 18 for coronavirus free areas and added information that the Colombia quarantine is extended to May 31.
Editors note: updated on May 21, 2020 with updated coronavirus data for May 20 for coronavirus free areas.
Editors note: updated on May 22, 2020 with updated coronavirus data for May 21 for coronavirus free areas.
Editors note: updated on May 24, 2020 with updated coronavirus data for May 23 for coronavirus free areas.
Editors note: updated on May 30, 2020 with information that the quarantine in Colombia has been extended to June 30.
Editors note: updated on June 15, 2020 with current coronavirus information for Colombia.
Editors note: updated on June 24, 2020 with information that the quarantine in Colombia has been extended to July 15.
Editors note: updated on July 8, 2020 with information that the quarantine in Colombia has been extended to August 1.
Editors note: updated on July 28, 2020 with information that the quarantine in Colombia has been extended to September 1.
Thanks for the info. It is amazing that in a developing country where 30 people on average are murdered every _day_, a disease which barley killed 300 people in two months, shuts down the economy and will possibly bring many citizens to their knees financially, if not much worse. the epidemiology and lethality of this virus shows clear correlation with weather and demographics (age), both of which makes Colombia relatively immune. By now, and with approximately the same measures, Spain with about the same population size, has 40 (!) times more cases and mortality rate. Far more people would die here from quarantine side effects than the virus itself. It seams mandatory masks, some restriction for the elderly, and public event and entertainment limits would have been sufficient, and more importantly, sustainable, until a vaccine is developed.
Comparing Colombia and Spain; just shows that cutting the hosts from feeding the virus early with the total lockdown has been successful.
Spain delayed taking action for over a month after they detected their firsts cases; while countries like Colombia went into radical measures on the first week after the first case; starting with closing schools and unis.
Spain´s government was distracted in petty politics while the virus was vacationing for two months ; by the time they detected the first death it had already left markers on every restaurant.
And as this article explains the same happened in east europe: https://www.ft.com/content/f9850a8d-7323-4de5-93ed-9ecda7f6de1c
“The virus came to central Europe later, but they also used this time better,” she said. “There wasn’t any of the misguided exceptionalism we saw in the UK. No one [in CEE] looked at Italy and said: that would never happen to us.”
The questions is not if a total lockdown is successful, as it will also dramatically decrease mortality rate from homicide, traffic accidents, common flu and all sorts of misgivings. It’s a tradeoff, and Colombia seams to be overshooting (hysterically) to one side as the almost complete destruction of it’s economy is not well balanced against mortality rate and actual danger of it’s health system collapsing.
Is the airport open for International flights yet
No, regularly scheduled international flights are not permitted. The only international flights permitted are humanitarian flights arranged by embassies.
I believe retirees should still err on the side of precaution to give medical researchers time to determine more effective treatments and hopefully soon, a vaccine. Every day reveals new important clinical insights about the pathology of this disease. Scientists are learning that this is more a blood clotting disease than a lung disease per se. This article gives some idea of ongoing clinical battles:
We just have too much yet to learn about this disease before retirees and just “let loose” and live the equivalence of driving without a seatbelt. This articles from the NY Times lists 46 of these unknowns: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/opinion/coronavirus-what-we-know.html
Here are the first 15 unknowns from the article:
We don’t know how many people have been infected with Covid-19.
We don’t know the full range of symptoms.
We don’t always know why some infections develop into severe disease.
We don’t know the full range of risk factors.
We don’t know exactly how deadly the disease is.
We don’t have answers to more detailed questions about how the virus spreads, including: “How many virus particles does it even take to
launch an infection? How far does the virus travel in outdoor spaces, or in indoor settings? Have these airborne movements affected the
course of the pandemic?”
We don’t know for sure how this coronavirus first emerged.
We don’t know how much China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in that country.
We don’t know what percentage of adults are asymptomatic. Or what percentage of children are asymptomatic.
We don’t know for certain if the virus will subside as the Northern Hemisphere enters the warmer months of spring and summer, as other
viruses do. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is bullish. Other experts, not so much.
We don’t know the strength and duration of immunity. Though people who recover from Covid-19 likely have some degree of immunity for
some period of time, the specifics are unknown.
We don’t yet know why some who’ve been diagnosed as “fully recovered” from the virus have tested positive a second time after leaving
We don’t know why some recovered patients have low levels of antibodies.
We don’t know the long-term health effects of a severe Covid-19 infection. What are the consequences to the lungs of those who survive
We don’t yet know if any treatments are truly effective. While there are many therapies in trials, there are no clinically proven therapies
aside from supportive care.
Just thought y’all might want to know…
18- 69 years old… Great. I guess the rest of us are supposed to rot away in our apartments.
Its just like the great health care system… over 64, we do not want you. Blah, blah..
Lewis, You may have read about how the infectious pathways for his hideous disease are different depending on age. Older ages are definitely at much higher risk of death, disability(worse), or clotting up the hospital system(the very worse). I guess any older person who wants to take on more risk should be able to promise to die at home, but caring, developed societies just don’t work that way.
I’m a bit cynical but from what I read and see on selected YouTube videos (before the truth police take them down) the threat of death from Covid-19 is so low as a percentage of known cases that the quarantine has mostly been a waste. There’s overwhelming evidence that several known commonly used drugs and treatments can combat Covid-19 and that when caught soon enough you are in less danger of dying from Covid than you are with the common flu. The numbers simply don’t add up. There is so much resistance to using treatments that are known to work one has to wonder what is really going on. Facebook and YouTube routinely take down articles and videos that do not fit the preferred narrative. Early on in the pandemic certainly there was insufficient data to make the case to ease quarantines but for the better part of six weeks that has drastically changed.
The moral conundrum is that if you are asymptomatic you will be harming others while you express your freedom to move about…so please at least wear a mask and also maybe leave explicit written instructions with your family and neighbors explaining that you refuse to let yourself be taken to a hospital and that you want to just die at home so as not use up overt-stressed medical resources.
Thank you for this post Jeff. I love how you keep all of us expats up to date. I’ve been reading some articles lately
and seeing doctors step up to share about how this all just doesn’t make ANY sense. I mean shutting down the ENTIRE world? Come on?
Doctors are coming forward to share how they are being TOLD to mark people as the cause of death as “covid 19” when the person just had a heart attack. Also that the TESTS are not being used to see if the person has a virus but a reaction to the virus. So the tests are doing nothing. This is a interesting article from a respiratory therapist who has dozens of ventilators in the back ground when we were told they are struggling to find ventilators. Here is the link to that if you want to watch it.
I really wish the Colombian govt would watch that, because this is BS to close and entire world economy down over something that can be treated with IMMUNE boosting medicines.
Thank you again Jeff for the updates. 🙂
Do you know when
Sorry, nothing has been announced by the government about resuming international flights. It would be pure speculation at this point.