Colombia: Bogota emerges from more than five months of confinement

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The inhabitants of Bogota, the main focus of the coronavirus pandemic in Colombia, were allowed Thursday to resume their activities after more than five months of confinement, a measure which aims above all to revive trade in the capital.

• Read also: South America: nine countries consider reopening borders

Thousands of people have reopened their stores or returned to the streets to resume their informal sales activities.

Despite a still strong circulation of the virus in the capital of eight million inhabitants, which concentrates 35% of the contaminations, the town hall, in collaboration with the government, decided to relax the restrictions in almost all areas, by basing in particular on the widespread use of the mask in public spaces.

Colombians will have to adapt to a “model of new reality”, insisted the mayor, Claudia Lopez.

Colombia: Bogota emerges from more than five months of confinement

A general containment of the population was established on March 25 in this country of 50 million inhabitants and extended several times. But right-wing President Ivan Duque had already relaxed measures for certain sectors in order to mitigate the effects on the economy.

On Thursday, the streets of Bogota were again busy and traffic jams reappeared.

In the rest of the country, the easing will take place from September 1.

However, schools will remain closed until October. Domestic flights will not resume until September and international connections remain suspended. Large gatherings are still prohibited.

Colombia: Bogota emerges from more than five months of confinement

Colombia has recorded nearly 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 18,000 deaths since the appearance of a first case on March 6.

In San Victorino, right in downtown Bogota, traders are crossing their fingers for a quick recovery. But “today, there are more salespeople than the public,” notes Sandra Parra, 42, owner of a clothing store who had to lay off 12 of its 36 employees.

Outside, 70-year-old Concepcion Avila has reopened his small candy and cigarette stall. In the midst of the epidemic, she lost her husband Alfredo, 68. “He died during confinement because of the desperation to (…) think that we could be evicted from our house overnight” for lack of being able to pay the rent, she explains.

The pandemic has already destroyed five million jobs in Latin America’s fourth largest economy.

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