In a bid to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak, Colombian President Ivan Duque on May 5 extended the mandatory quarantine for two more weeks. While addressing the daily briefing, Duque said that the authorities between May 11 and May 25 will extend the obligatory preventive isolation. However, he also informed that several additional sectors will be allowed to start returning to work.
With more than 8,600 confirmed coronavirus cases, the deadly virus has also claimed almost 378 lives in the country. As per reports, the national quarantine in Colombia started on March 24 and has already extended the lockdown measures twice before. According to an international media report, the lockdown measures have hurt poor people and vulnerable people as they have been cut off from their usual informal jobs.
However, Duque said that the authorities are going to begin to take steps in activating retail but with ‘levels of responsibility and the application of protocols’. He informed that the industrial sectors and sales of cars and other items can re-start from May 11. Furthermore, children aged between 6 and 17 can also go outside three times a week for 30 minutes and those 14 and under need to be accompanied by an adult who is not part of a ‘high-risk group’.
While the Colombian authorities had already allowed manufacturing and construction workers to return to work, the government recently also embarked billions of dollars in welfare for the country’s poor aid for independent workers and companies in a bid to lessen economic fallout. The country already has climbing unemployment and it’s economy, which is Latin America’s fourth-largest, has also been battered by the twin ills of COVID-19 and a slump in oil prices.
With businesses forced to close during the ongoing crisis, urban unemployment reportedly jumped to 13.4 per cent in March. According to Colombia’s finance ministry, an economic contraction of 5.5 per cent for this year and a revision from its previous estimate of a contraction of 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent were reported. Moreover, the central bank also expects a more severe contraction of between 2 per cent and 7 per cent this year.