Bogotá quarantine drill confirmed, Colombians barred from entering country for 30 days

The quarantine simulation scheduled to begin on Friday at 12:00 am will go ahead as planned confirmed Colombian President Iván Duque after a political stand-off on Wednesday, between the Executive and Mayoralty of Claudia López, on who gets to determine when and where curfews are enacted across the country. The political confrontation arose when Mayor López announced a four-day quarantine drill that was presented to Bogotá’s 9 million inhabitants as a voluntary exercise to test the capacity of the city to self-isolate during the coronavirus outbreak.

According to Minister of Interior Alicia Arango, only the head of state can determine under the Colombian Constitution when to authorize mayors and governors to enact curfew, as was the case on November 21 when former mayor Enrique Peñalosa was handed the decree by President Duque to enact curfew to quell the rioting and vandalism with the start of the Paro Nacional.  But on Wednesday, President Duque claimed that the decree does not affect the government and that “there is no space for fights nor vanity,” given the nation’s Health Emergency with COVID-19.

Three months into her term as mayor of the capital city, and second most important political seat after the Presidency, Mayor López’s quarantine simulation is hardly voluntary, and residents who violate the restrictions face heavy fines and arrest.

After reaching consensus on a second version of the quarantine simulation, President Duque announced that as of Saturday and for 30 days, Colombians and foreign residents will not be allowed to enter the country. The head of state also noted that this measure was taken to verify if international travelers who recently entered the country are complying with mandatory isolation. “There are people who have arrived in the country and who are trying to avoid mandatory isolation. Let’s be clear, here, we must also start with the ethical behavior of citizens,” said Duque.

A bulletin released by the country’s immigration authority Migración Colombia, 40 foreigners have been expelled for violating self-isolation. Migración Colombia is conducting searches of hotels in Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, Neiva, Tunja and Zipaquira. The foreigners who violated quarantine come from the U.K,  Israel, Australia, Yemen, Haiti, Netherlands, India, Germany and the United States.

Colombia has 102 confirmed cases of the respiratory virus impacting 11 departments of the country.

The global tally of the illness on Thursday stood at 230,000 cases with 9,300 deaths.