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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Airports are Open and Bus Terminals are Open
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.
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.
In addition, Hacienda Napoles, Pablo Escobar’s former estate turned theme park has reopened, which is located about three hours from Medellín.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Will the Quarantine Return to Colombia? What if Cases Increase?
- New Normal in Medellín: Medellín is Returning to Normal
- Colombia’s Quarantine Ends on September 1: New Phase Starts
- Tourism Impact of Coronavirus: Colombia Starts to Reactivate Tourism
- Economy Impacts in Colombia Due to Extended Quarantine
- Epicenter of Coronavirus in Colombia: Bogotá is the Epicenter
- Medellín Plans the Total Reopening of Economic Activities in the City
- When Will the Quarantine End in Colombia? On September 1?
- Humanitarian Flights from Colombia to the U.S. and Other Countries
- Beware of Fake News in Colombia About Coronavirus and Quarantines
- Reopening Gymnasiums, Churches and Movie Theaters in Colombia
- Reopening Amusement Parks, Zoos and Nature Reserves in Colombia
- 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?
- 23 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: 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.