Colombia has been successful in flattening the coronavirus curve. A big question many people have is “When will the quarantine be lifted in Colombia?”. The current nationwide Colombia quarantine is until September 1, what happens on September 1?

To answer this question, we first look at coronavirus cases in Colombia and the trend of new cases in Colombia and the three biggest cities: Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. Also, we look at the success Colombia is having in preventing the spread of coronavirus throughout the country.

In addition, we look at the increase of COVID-19 testing in Colombia and the impacts of the quarantine on the economy in Colombia. Finally, we look at what the Colombian government has said.

But we believe changes are very likely, as the harm to the Colombian economy is tremendous.

Colombia Quarantine Extended to September 1

Colombia’s initial nationwide quarantine was originally ending on April 13 but it has now been extended eight times:

  1. On April 6, was extended to April 26
  2. On April 20, was extended to May 11.
  3. A third time was extended to May 25
  4. A fourth time was extended to May 31
  5. A fifth time was extended to June 30
  6. On June 23, was extended a sixth time to July 15
  7. On July 7, was extended a seventh time to August 1
  8. On July 28, was extended an eighth time to September 1

So, the national quarantine is now for 160 days and officially ended on September 1.

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 mid-July. Domestic flights in Colombia resumed with a pilot in July.

Also, according to the Minister of transport, international flights will be restricted until August 31 with international flights resuming in September with a pilot.

A new phase began 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. But guidelines will be released so that those over 70 are allowed to have some time outside, with precautions and limitations.

A Flatter Coronavirus Trajectory Curve for Colombia

As a result of Colombia rapidly implementing preventive measures, Colombia is experiencing a flatter curve for coronavirus cases than several other countries, as seen in the following graphic (Colombia is the dark blue line at the bottom of the graphic):

Coronavirus Trajectory Curve by Country, Total Number of cases on # of Days Past 100 Cases, data source John Hopkins University, 4/19

Coronavirus Trajectory Curve by Country, Total Number of cases on # of Days Past 100 Cases, data source John Hopkins University, 4/19

Coronavirus Cases in Colombia

Colombia Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) reported the number of coronavirus cases in Colombia on October 20 – a total of 974,139 cases with 29,272 deaths.

The first coronavirus case in Colombia was on March 6, 2020 and by October 20 the number of cases had grown to 974,139 cases. The following chart shows a running 7-day average of new coronavirus cases in Colombia daily, so you can see the trend of new daily cases for more than the past month.

7-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Oct. 20

7-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Oct. 20

The increase in daily cases is mainly due to an increase in cases in 27 cities in Colombia.

Red Cities in Colombia – Major Increase of Cases in Past 80 Days

In the 80 days from August 2 to October 19, a total of 72 percent of the coronavirus cases in Colombia were in the 27 cities of Apartadó, Armenia BarrancabermejaBarranquilla, Bello, Bucaramanga, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, Cúcuta, Envigado, Ibagué, Itagüí, Manizales, Medellín, Monteria, Neiva, Pasto, Pereira, Santa Marta, Sabanalarga, Sincelejo, Soacha, Soledad, Valledupar and Villavicencio and Zipaquirá, with the 27 cities in Colombia averaging 6,284 cases per day.

The over 1,100 other municipalities in Colombia not including these 27 cities during the same 80 days averaged 2,447 cases per day..

The following chart demonstrates this. The 27 cities in red were responsive for the increase in cases in Colombia to a peak in August. The same cities were responsible for the drop in the number of cases in Colombia, as these cities have dropped since mid-August and then heading back up and then down again.

7-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Oct. 19

7-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Oct. 19

Clearly this chart shows the increase in coronavirus cases in Colombia over these 80 days is primarily due to a substantial increase in cases in the 27 cities of Apartadó, Armenia BarrancabermejaBarranquilla, Bello, Bucaramanga, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, Cúcuta, Envigado, Ibagué, Itagüí, Manizales, Medellín,  Monteria, Neiva, Pasto, Pereira, Santa Marta, Sabanalarga, Sincelejo, Soacha, Soledad, Valledupar and Villavicencio and Zipaquirá,

The rest of Colombia (blue linenot including these 27 cities has a relatively flat curve of new cases except for starting to increase in a period of six weeks.

Also, we have a separate article that looks at the cities in Colombia with a major increase in coronavirus cases in more detail.

We next look at at the coronavirus case trends in Bogotá, Cali and Medellín, the three largest cities in Colombia.

Coronavirus Cases in Bogotá

On October 19, Bogotá had 297,173 cases, which was 31.0 percent of the total cases in Colombia. The first case in Bogotá was on March 6, 2020. And the peak of new daily coronavirus cases in Bogotá was reached on August 6 with 6,068 cases.

The following chart shows a running 6-day average of daily coronavirus cases in Bogotá, so you can see the trend of new cases for more than the past month.

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Bogotá, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 9/12

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Bogotá, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 9/12

This rolling 6-day average chart for Bogotá shows that on average, the number of new cases started to drop in Bogotá after reaching a peak but then started to increase again heading to a new average peak, which impacted the overall Colombia curve.

Coronavirus Cases in Cali

On October 11, Cali had 52,173 cases, which was 5.7 percent of the total cases in Colombia. The first case in Cali was on March 15, 2020. And the peak of new daily coronavirus cases in Cali was reached on August 12 with 1,650 cases.

The following chart shows a running 6-day average of daily coronavirus cases in Cali, so you can see the trend of new cases for more than the past month.

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Cali, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 7/24

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Cali, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 7/24

This rolling 6-day average chart shows that on average, the number of new cases in Cali have been increasing at a fairly steady rate with some minor ups and downs.

Coronavirus Cases in Medellín

On October 11, Medellín had 75,941 cases, which was 8.3 percent of the total cases in Colombia. The first case in Medellín was on March 9, 2020. And the peak of new coronavirus cases in Medellín was reached on August 10 with 1,613 cases.

The following chart shows a running 6-day average of daily coronavirus cases in Medellín, so you can see the trend of new cases for more than the past month.

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Medellín, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 7/24

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Medellín, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 7/24

This rolling 6-day average trend chart shows that on average, the number of cases per day in Medellín was fewer than 100 and started to increase in late June heading to a new peak.

COVID-19 Testing in Colombia

On October 11, 2020, Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) in Colombia reported that it had completed a total of 4,173,863 COVID-19 tests in Colombia.

This means that Colombia has completed 81,898 COVID-19 tests per million people in Colombia based on a population of 50.96 million.

Colombia has been ramping up testing for coronavirus for several months as seen in the following graphic but dropped the past few weeks:

Counts of COVID-19 tests in Colombia by week, data source Instituto Nacional de Salud, Oct. 4

Counts of COVID-19 tests in Colombia by week, data source Instituto Nacional de Salud, Oct. 4

The testing rate for COVID-19 is increasing in Colombia. For the week of October 5 to 11, Colombia averaged 39,939 tests per day. This was up dramatically from the week of May 18-24, when Colombia averaged only 6,917 tests per day.

We have a separate article that looks at COVID-19 testing in Colombia in more detail.

Coronavirus Cases in Colombia are NOT Nationwide

On October 19, 2020, the majority of coronavirus cases – 764,494 – (79.1 percent) of the cases in Colombia were in only 10 departments (states) in Colombia out of 33 departments (including the district capital of Bogotá):

  1. Bogotá DC – 298,170 cases
  2. Antioquia – 145,194 cases
  3. Valle del Cauca – 74,066 cases
  4. Atlántico – 69,747 cases
  5. Cundinamarca – 38,584 cases
  6. Santander – 37,799 cases
  7. Bolivar – 31,412 cases
  8. Córdoba – 25,449 cases
  9. Cesar – 23,708 cases
  10. Nariño – 20,365 cases

Coronavirus Cases by City in Colombia

Also, in terms of cities in Colombia on October 19, 2020, the majority of coronavirus cases – 672,259 cases – (69.6 percent) were in only 18 cities in Colombia:

  1. Bogotá – 298,170 cases
  2. Medellín – 84,088 cases
  3. Cali – 56,113 cases
  4. Barranquilla – 39,601 cases
  5. Cartagena – 24,998 cases
  6. Bucaramanga – 16,239 cases
  7. Valledupar – 16,229 cases
  8. Villavicencio – 15,074 cases
  9. Monteria – 15,042 cases
  10. Soledad – 14,618 cases
  11. Bello – 13,078 cases
  12. Cúcuta – 12,272 cases
  13. Soacha – 11,769 cases
  14. Ibagué – 11,561 cases
  15. Neiva – 11,407 cases
  16. Pasto – 11,110 cases
  17. Santa Marta – 10,839 cases
  18. Pereira – 10,051 cases

On October 19, Medellin Guru reviewed a list of 1,099 municipalities in Colombia and found over 50 that did not have a single coronavirus case.

In addition, on October 19, over 100 of the cities and towns in Colombia with at least one reported coronavirus case haven’t experienced a new case in over two weeks

The Quarantine Impacts on the Colombian Economy

At the beginning of 2020, Banco de la República in Colombia projected that the Colombian economy would grow 3.7 percent in 2020.

Today the situation is completely different, due to the coronavirus pandemic and a national quarantine shutting down much of Colombia’s economy.

According to Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla, the Colombian economy is expected to contract by 1.5 to 2 percent in 2020, influenced by the effect of the April-June quarter that would be “the worst in Colombia’s economic history”.

But a 1.5 to 2 percent contraction is highly questionable unless Colombia lifts the quarantine quickly and the economy recovers rapidly. If the nationwide quarantine continues for much longer, the harm to Colombia’s economy will be immense.

The Fedesarrollo think tank updated its growth projections for Colombia and for a scenario with a weak recovery in private consumption for the remainder of the year, this would lead to a fall in GDP of 7.9 percent in 2020 and unemployment hitting 20.5 percent.

The most optimistic outlook from Fedesarrollo implies a contraction of the economy of 2.7 percent for this year and an unemployment rate at the end of 2020 of 16.3 percent. According to Fedesarrollo, the hardest hit sectors of the economy include trade, transportation, tourism, food services, entertainment and construction.

In addition, according to Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística (DANE) micro, small and medium-sized companies represent 80 percent of Colombia’s employment. The small and medium business are experiencing huge issues with working capital, unable to pay employees and many have already shut down.

The risk of continuing the quarantine much longer is that many small businesses in Colombia will likely fail and unemployment could skyrocket in Colombia.

What Has the Government Said – When Will the Quarantine be Lifted in Colombia?

On April 16, Colombia’s health minister indicated that the government plans to lift quarantine measures for “certain sectors of the economy” while maintaining a general lockdown.

In a virtual session with Congress, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz confirmed President Ivan Duque’s plan to “recover productive life without social life” in Colombia starting on April 27 when the current nationwide Colombia quarantine ends:

The strategy will be to maintain obligatory preventative lockdown for specific groups and maintain the obligatory preventive lockdown for the entire population with the option of a very systematic, very gradual and very controlled global opening of some sectors of the economy.

Editors note, there is a nationwide quarantine in Colombia that began on March 24. Colombia’s initial nationwide quarantine was originally ending on April 13 but it has been extended eight times to September 1:

  1. On April 6, was extended to April 26
  2. On April 20, was extended to May 11.
  3. A third time was extended to May 25
  4. A fourth time was extended to May 31
  5. A fifth time was extended to June 30
  6. On June 23, was extended a sixth time to July 15
  7. On July 7, was extended a seventh time to August 1
  8. On July 28, was extended an eighth time to September 1

So, the national quarantine is now for 160 days but the quarantine ended on September 1.

However, the quarantine extension from April 27 until May 11 started to lift the quarantine. President Duque announced that the mandatory quarantine, will allow, with very strict protocols, to open the manufacturing and construction sectors of the economy in Colombia.

Other sectors of the economy including textiles, clothing and leather; chemical substances; wood, paper and cardboard; metals and electronic equipment were also permitted to return to work on April 27.

Also, starting on May 11, several additional sectors were be permitted to return to work:

  1. Manufacture of furniture, mattresses and bed bases.
  2. Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers.
  3. Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products.
  4. Manufacture of machinery and equipment.
  5. Maintenance and repair of motor vehicles.
  6. Maintenance and repair of technology and computer equipment.
  7. Wholesale and retail trade of vehicles (including parts, pieces and accessories).
  8. Wholesale trade of furniture and household goods.
  9. Wholesale trade of machinery and equipment.
  10. Retail trade of pet products.
  11. Retail trade of construction materials, hardware, locksmiths and glass and paint products in specialized stores.
  12. Retail trade of fuels, lubricants, additives and cleaning products for motor vehicles in specialized establishments.
  13. Retail trade of books, newspapers, materials, stationery and desks in specialized stores.
  14. Laundry services at home.
  15. 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.
  16. Automotive diagnostic centers.

During the quarantine extension to May 31, events will not take place and bars and discos will remain closed, restaurants can only provide domicilio (delivery) and universities and other schools will remain closed.

Also, Duque reiterated that domestic and international flights will not be opened in Colombia until the end of June.

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.

So, according to President Duque, it appears that Colombia will be starting to lift the quarantine even more in cities and towns and departments (states) without a coronavirus presence.

COVID-19 Free Municipalities Can Open on May 11

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 90 COVID-19 free municipalities, so they can start to return to normal. And over 100 municipalities in Antioquia were also permitted to start to lift the quarantine. But most of these municipalities experienced cases and were returned to quarantine.

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: Coronavirus – When Will the Quarantine Be Lifted in Colombia?

The bottom line is the measures that Colombia has put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in a flatter curve and  new coronavirus cases are starting to drop in Colombia. Also, Colombia appears to have been successful in preventing the spread of coronavirus throughout Colombia.

The challenge facing Colombia is now how to open things back up without increasing the rate of infections.

Watch 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 a downward trend continues, it becomes more likely that lockdowns will continue to be relaxed.

When will the quarantine be lifted in Colombia? When this article was first published on April 17, we expected to see some partial lifting on April 27 with some sectors of the economy slowly opened up. And the quarantine in Colombia ended on September 1.

And we were correct, as on April 27, several sectors of the economy including manufacturing and construction were permitted to return to work. This is a total of up to 6 million Colombians permitted to return to work. And additional sectors of the economy were permitted to return to work starting slowly on May 11.

Also, we hoped when this article was published on April 17, that Colombia should consider that over one-third of  the population in Colombia lives in municipalities that don’t have any coronavirus cases reported or haven’t reported a new case in over two weeks.

These municipalities without any cases don’t need the more stringent restrictions that are put in place in Bogotá, which has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in Colombia. And Colombia started lifting restrictions in municipalities without any cases.

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.

Furthermore, we don’t expect that international travel to Colombia will be permitted any time soon, considering the much higher coronavirus infection rates in many other countries in the world. International flights will not be opened until at least until in September.

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Editors note: updated on July 28, 2020 with information that the quarantine in Colombia has been extended to September 1.

Editors note: updated on August 1, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for July 31.

Editors note: updated on August 7, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for August 6.

Editors note: updated on August 12, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for August 11.

Editors note: updated on August 14, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for August 13.

Editors note: updated on August 21, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for August 20.

Editors note: updated on August 26, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for August 25.

Editors note: updated on August 29, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for August 28.

Editors note: updated on September 5, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for September 4.

Editors note: updated on September 11, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for September 10.

Editors note: updated on September 19, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for September 18.

Editors note: updated on September 25, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for September 24.

Editors note: updated on October 4, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for October 3.

Editors note: updated on October 12, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for October 11.

Editors note: updated on October 20, 2020 with coronavirus case counts for October 19.

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