Bogotá lifts face mask mandate for outdoors

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Lopez announces end to face mask mandate

Bogotá Mayor Claudia López confirmed Thursday on social media that persons will no longer be obligated to wear face masks outdoors as the Colombian capital has surpassed a threshold set by the Ministry of Health of 70% vaccination coverage, with completed schemes, in order for municipalities to lift the mandate.

On Wednesday, President Iván Duque made the announcement during the opening of the country’s largest tourism and trade fair Vitrina Turística, stating “we are close to reaching that 70 percent as a nation. We are at 65 percent,” he said. “This is a measure taken with the public’s health in mind, but also maintaining the guiding principle that all Colombians have to get vaccinated,” he added.

Colombia has reached a vaccination coverage among its 50.1 million population of 81% having received a single dose, and 8 million a booster. Health workers have administered 76 million doses since the National Vaccination Plan was launched a year ago. Minister of Health Fernando Ruíz admitted that for many, being outdoors without a mask is “gives the sensation that ‘this is not happening,” but reiterated that the wearing of a face mask is still obligatory indoors.

Bogotá is one of the municipalities that has surpassed the established numbers, where 94% of the population over the age of 12 have completed a vaccination cycle. “The first thing we have to say is thanks to the effort of collective care and vaccination, we have overcome the fourth peak of the pandemic in Bogotá. The hardest part of the Omicron variant is over,” she said.

Hospitalizations and active cases in Bogotá have declined steadily since Omicron became the dominant variant in the country. “After having passed the fourth peak, it is not necessary to wear the mask in open spaces, where there are no crowds, and where we can maintain a social distance from the other person of one meter.”

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health confirmed 17,173 active cases in the country, including the day’s additional 2,181 infections. After almost two years since the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, Colombia has registered 6,054.307 total cases and 138,364 deaths.