The national quarantine in Colombia ended on September 1, malls and restaurants and many other places have reopened and Medellín is starting to return to a semblance of normal. We look at the “New Normal” in Medellín.

Back in late August Medellín planned for a total reopening of economic activities in the city. And for the most part this has happened.

Now, most places in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley are open including malls, shops, churches, restaurants, casinos, barbershops and even popular tourist attractions like Museo de Antioquia, Parque Arví and Pueblito Paisa.

In this article we look at the “New Normal” in Medellín and how Medellín is starting to return to some semblance of normal.

Shopping Malls Reopen in Medellín and Thousands of Shops Reopen - Medellin Guru

Shopping Malls Reopen in Medellín and Thousands of Shops Reopen – Medellin Guru

Shopping Malls are Open

Starting on June 1, over 50 shopping malls reopened in Medellín and thousands of shops reopened in the city.

Malls now require that you wear a face mask and your temperature will be checked. And most malls will have hand sanitizer available.

El Hueco in El Centro on September 9

El Hueco in El Centro on September 9

Also, the huge El Hueco shopping area in El Centro reopened. I went to El Hueco on Friday, September 9, and found that most shops are open and the crowds were nearly what would be expected pre-coronavirus.

The only difference from normal is that almost everyone is wearing a face mask and the malls will have temperature checks.

Over 6,000 Restaurants Open for Table Service in Medellín on August 31 - Medellin Guru

Over 6,000 Restaurants Open for Table Service in Medellín on August 31 – Medellin Guru

Restaurants are Open for Table Service

Over 6,000 restaurants opened for table service in Medellin on August 31 in a new stage of economic activation after five months of closure.

The restaurant sector generates more than 90,000 formal and informal jobs in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley.

Despite the fact that restaurants have been able to operate since April during the quarantine through domicilio (home delivery) and takeout service, the reopening of table service opens the possibility for restaurants to increase business, while respecting biosafety protocols.

Restaurante El Viejo John in Sabaneta on September 9, open for table service

Restaurante El Viejo John in Sabaneta on September 9, open for table service

According to Resolution 1050 of 2020 of the Ministry of Health, which regulates the operation of these establishments, restaurants must guarantee an area of 6.5 feet (​​2 meters) between groups of tables, adapt their bathrooms to avoid contact and offer reservations if possible.

However, I have seen some restaurants with tables less than 6.5 feet from each other.

Over 300 Churches Reopened in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley - Medellin Guru

Over 300 Churches Reopened in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley – Medellin Guru

Churches are Open

On September 1, over 300 churches reopened in Medellín with biosafety protocols in place that limit 50 people to enter a church and require face masks.

Popular Iglesia de Santa Ana in Sabaneta at Parque Sabaneta is open

Popular Iglesia de Santa Ana in Sabaneta at Parque Sabaneta is open

The following are the biosafety measures for churches:

  • A physical distance of 6.5 feet (​​2 meters) must be maintained between people
  • Cannot exceed more than 50 people in a church, including the priest, ministers and support staff
  • Mandatory use of face masks
  • Temperature will be taken and disinfectant used
Inside José María Córdova international airport (MDE) serving Medellín

Inside José María Córdova international airport (MDE) serving Medellín

Airports are Open and Bus Terminals are Open

Domestic flights resumed to Medellín’s two airports – José María Cordova Airport (MDE) and Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) – starting in August and September.

Also, international flights resumed to José María Cordova Airport (MDE) in September.

Shortly after the airports reopened reportedly José María Cordova Airport was operating at about 15 percent of normal capacity and Olaya Herrera Airport was operating at about 30 percent of normal capacity.

On September 1, the two bus terminals in Medellín reopened providing bus service throughout Colombia. In the first week of operations, the two bus terminals reached 40 percent of normal capacity.

Pueblito Paisa has reopened, photo by Jenny Bojinova

Pueblito Paisa has reopened, photo by Jenny Bojinova

Popular Tourist Spots Have Started Reopening

Many of the most popular tourist spots in Medellín have started reopening. Museo de Antioquia, Parque Arví and Pueblito Paisa are open. Also, Parque Norte, Parque Explora and Jardín Botánico are open.

Museo de Antioqua on September 9, it is open!

Museo de Antioqua on September 9, it is open!

In addition, Hacienda Napoles, Pablo Escobar’s former estate turned theme park has reopened, which is located about three hours from Medellín.

Plaza Botero in El Centro on September 9

Plaza Botero in El Centro on September 9

Also, there are many pueblos near Medellín that are now open for tourists to visit with bus service restored. We previously looked at eight of the most popular pueblos near Medellín.

On the Medellín metro on September 9, everyone is wearing a mask

On the Medellín metro on September 9, everyone is wearing a mask

Medellín Metro Service is Near Normal

The Medellín Metro has returned to near normal service. There is no longer a requirement for empty seats between passengers and no restrictions on who can use the metro, like there was previously with Pico y Cedula.

Metro station San Antonio on September 9, everyone wearing face masks

Metro station San Antonio on September 9, everyone wearing face masks

The only requirement is that passengers must wear a face mask. Also, during peak times there may be lines to enter as there is some restriction on capacity of trains.

The Cine Colombia in Unicentro, Cine Colombia and other movie theaters are still closed

The Cine Colombia in Unicentro, Cine Colombia and other movie theaters are still closed

What is Still Closed?

Most places have reopened in Medellín. In addition to the above, gymnasiums, barbershops, casinos and many other places have reopened.

However, movie theaters are still closed. Movie theaters were permitted to reopen with strict biosafety protocols. But the movie theaters have not reopened.

Reportedly the CEO of Cine Colombia said the protocols were too strict to enable them to operate profitably. So, they are still closed. The biosafety protocols for movie theaters requires leaving empty rows between rows with people, and empty seats between groups. Also, they were not permitted to offer concessions.

Also, the universities and other schools have not reopened.

Will a Quarantine or Other Measures Return to Medellín?

The national quarantine in Colombia was lifted on September 1. What happens if coronavirus cases increase in Colombia, will the quarantine return to Colombia and what preventative measures will be taken?

We have a separate article looking at will the quarantine return to Colombia (this is premium content).

We believe a national quarantine for Colombia is very unlikely to return. The economic harm is too great and the rate of coronavirus infection now varies greatly between cities and towns in Colombia.

We believe that ICU occupancy is the key metric to watch to determine if Colombia takes coronavirus preventive measures in some cities. We update our popular article about coronavirus hospitalization in Colombia weekly with updates on ICU utilization.

The most likely preventative measures will be taken by cities and likely will include curfews and/or lockdowns that may be by neighborhoods that are most impacted by coronavirus.

With about 340 free ICU beds in Medellín on October 9, the mayor’s office indicated that they have a margin that allows them to keep the situation stable in the coming days. Medellín Mayor Daniel Quintero said yesterday according to Portafolio:

We expect a kind of sine wave effect, but within the framework that we have built a thousand ICU beds. This allows us not to have to close the city.

But the Medellín Mayor does not rule out returning to a quarantine on weekends. So, if ICU occupancy in Medellín increases, the city may take preventative measures such as it has taken in the past including curfews on weekends and holidays and possibly lockdowns in neighborhoods most impacted.

On October 14, according to El Colombiano, Esteban Restrepo, Secretary of the Government of Medellín, said that for now the Mayor’s office does not contemplate new restrictions or closures, however, monitoring continues.

Also, any measures may not be as severe as in the first three months of the pandemic, for example, 4 or 5 days of opening with 3 or 2 days of closings per week could be resumed.

Your temperature will be checked when you enter many places in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley

Your temperature will be checked when you enter many places in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley

Be Safe When You Go Out

People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness like COVID-19 with everyday preventive actions.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear face masks – this is a requirement in Colombia when you leave the home. You can be fined if you don’t wear a face mask.

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:

The Bottom Line: New Normal in Medellín – Medellín is Returning to Normal

The bottom line is that most places in Medellín have reopened over the past few months and some semblance of normal life has resumed in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley.

But this is a “New Normal” with people wearing face masks everywhere and many places checking your temperature when you enter.

There currently are no restrictions on going places in Medellín or traveling to other parts of Colombia.

However, if ICU occupancy increases in Medellín, the city may take preventative measures including curfews or lockdowns in certain neighborhoods, as it has done in the past.

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Editors note: updated on October 14, 2020 with information that the Medellín Mayor’s office does not contemplate new restrictions or closures, however, monitoring continues.

 

 

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