The complete lockdown of the Colombian capital began at midnight when the city’s nine million inhabitants were confined to their homes for the next four days and abiding by the obligatory measure Bogotá Mayor Claudia López decreed in order to protect residents from COVID-19.

As the number of infected persons in the country reached 145 on Friday, all government officials, including Mayor López are in self-isolation for a “simulation quarantine” that coincides with a long weekend.

Images taken CCTV cameras show a desolate city, streets emptied of cars, buses and pedestrians.  With the city veiled in a haze since early morning, the quarantine drill exempts first responders, doctors, essential medical staff, fire department and all security forces.

From across political divides, there is solidarity with the initiative taken by the mayor to see how residents respond to quarantine and situation that after the “simulation” could be reinstated for much longer than four days.

The drill also gives the city respite from days of “panic buying” when supermarkets were filled to capacity and shelves depleted of essential household items. On Friday, Mayor López confirmed that the city’s supermarkets and public markets were re-stocked with 11,300 tonnes of food.

The city’s mass transit system TransMilenio has reduced operations 84% and can only transport passengers with special permits, including kitchen staff at restaurants and food delivery operators. TransMilenio released numbers state at 140,000 had entered the system Friday compared to 2.1 million who every day use the BRT network.

Colombia’s immigration entity Migración Colombia is patroling La Candelaria, Bogotá’s historic center asking foreigners to provide proof of their entry into the country in case they are violating the self-isolation order of the National Health Emergency.

Migración Colombia has expelled 40 foreigners from the country for breaking their commitment to self-isolate and an estimated 10,000 have left the country since the first cases of coronavirus were confirmed by the Ministry of Health.

By midday, district officials confirmed that 216 individuals have been fined for not respecting Decree 090 of 2020.

With news of the four-day shutdown, thousands filled Bogotá’s central bus terminal to escape the city on late-night buses heading to the departments of Meta, Boyacá and Tolima. No inter-municipal transport is permitted to enter the capital until the curfew is lifted on Tuesday, 12:01 am, including private vehicles, as toll booths across Cundinamarca have been closed.

A medical team was dispatched to the Presidential Palace, Casa de Nariño, to conduct a coronavirus test on President Iván Duque after he was in contact with the Mayor of Popayán Juan Carlos López who tested positive for COVID-19.

Photo credits: Migración Colombia and Efrain Arce/RCN