Bogotá on Red Alert: Citywide curfew

By Freek Huigen January 7, 2021

As cases continue to rise, mayor warns that the new strain may have arrived in the capital.

Another curfew imposed in Bogotá, will the streets be this empty again? Photo: Artemis María Papoutsakis
Another curfew imposed in Bogotá, will the streets be this empty again? Photo: Artemis María Papoutsakis

Just days after Bogotá introduced the first new measures to counter the second wave of the coronavirus, Mayor Claudia Lopéz has announced a curfew and other further restrictions. 

The city is on red alert as the emergency room occupation reaches 86%, and from tonight, mobility in the capital will be restricted for four days. The Ministry of Health announced the movement of people and vehicles in public spaces will be restricted in any city with an emergency room occupation above 85%.

López acknowledged that it’s a difficult start to the year, but said, “We are faced with possible phenomena such as the new strain and that is why we must take extreme measures to protect ourselves.” 

Read all our coverage on the coronavirus in Colombia

She warned the numbers of cases are rising faster than anticipated and also that a higher viral load is also being detected. In addition, López raised the possibility that the drastic rise in numbers could reflect the presence of the new strain that was first identified in the UK.

New restrictions in Bogotá

There’s already a citywide ban on alcohol sales for the weekend and localised strict quarantines in place in Suba, Engativá and Usaquén. The new rules aim to shut the city down and prevent further spread during the upcoming holiday weekend.

From 11.59pm tonight until 4am on Tuesday, the city will see a total restriction on mobility. As yet the announcements aren’t clear on what will be restricted, but the TransMilenio will continue to operate.

To summarise:

  • Mobility restriction from 11.59pm tonight (Jan. 7) to 4am on Jan. 12
  • There will be no ciclovía on Sunday and Monday (Jan. 10 and 11)
  • Parks will be shut from Saturday, Jan. 9
  • A citywide nightly curfew will begin on Jan. 12
  • Kennedy, Fontibon, and Teusaquillo will also enter strict quarantine on Jan. 12
  • Quarantines will remain in Suba, Engativá and Usaquén
  • Pico y cédula will continue until the end of January

If you are either returning to or leaving the city, you won’t be stopped. Local authorities are asking you to do a seven-day voluntary isolation. They recommend you don’t stop for food en route, wear masks, and go straight to your destination. You’ll need to keep your bus/plane/toll booth ticket as proof in case you get stopped.

Total lockdown… Again

The mayor told bogotanos that this weekend will be similar to the first isolation drill. Let’s hope it won’t be like that first drill which began as a four-day measure and continued for almost six months.

What that means in practice is that health personnel and essential workers will be exempt. But for the most part, we’re being asked to stay home and not go out.

Similar rules and exceptions apply:

  • One person per household can go to the shops
  • You’re allowed to take pets out
  • You’re allowed to go out for an hour of exercise, though group exercise is not allowed. Children should be accompanied by an adult, and one adult cannot be responsible for more than three minors.
  • Supermarkets, pharmacies and stores will continue to operate, as well as food delivery services — though pico y cédula is still in place
  • You’re allowed to go out for medical reasons, whether it’s for an appointment or to buy medicine
  • El Dorado airport will function as normal, as will other transport services in and out of the city
  • Bank and notary services will still operate

The fine for breaking the rules is one monthly minimum salary (just over COP$900,000).

Nightly curfew in Bogotá from Jan. 12

Once the holiday weekend has passed, the total restriction on mobility will be lifted. However, we’ll then see a nightly curfew to prevent people from going to bars and restaurants.

From Tuesday, Jan. 12 to Saturday, Jan. 16, the curfew will be in place throughout the city. Between 8pm and 5am every night, bogotanos will not be able to move around the city.

In addition, Kennedy, Fontibon, and Teusaquillo will also enter strict quarantine from Jan. 12 to 21. As with previous lockdowns, that means only essential workers will be able to go about their business. 

One person per household will be allowed to go out for essentials — such as shopping and banking. One hour of exercise will be permitted per day, and alcohol will not be on sale at weekends in those districts.

The mayor’s office warned that one in three tests in Bogotá are coming back positive. With vaccination some way off, it remains to be seen what impact these restrictions will have on the city’s health and economy.