Colombia will ban entering the country to everyone from abroad from midnight on Monday, including its own citizens, for a month, as the country struggles to enforce quarantine rules amid the accelerating coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week Colombia closed its land and water borders and limited entry through airports to citizens and legal residents.
“Until the weekend we will permit the entrance of Colombians coming from abroad and for a period of 30 days we will suspend the entrance of international travelers,” Duque said in a televised address.
Colombians and foreigner residents who want to enter the country have until this weekend to do so, the measure will be effective from midnight on Monday, March 23. After that, they will “initially” be locked out for the next 30 days.
Colombians living or traveling abroad have had a “wide window” to return home, Duque said, adding he was aware the measure would likely be unpopular.
Duque said the measure is necessary so that authorities are able to verify that recently-arrived travelers are complying with a 14-day obligatory quarantine. According to the Colombia immigration, more than 40 foreigners have been expelled for not respecting the mandatory isolation period.
Colombia has closed schools, bars and night clubs and has delayed the start of the legislative session in Congress.
On Tuesday the Duque administration ordered people aged 70 and over to stay home from Friday until the end of May, except for trips to purchase food, get medical care or complete financial transactions.
We have maintained the line that Colombians can come to our country, but we need to exercise pedagogy, which is why we are going to use the capacity of Migration Colombia and other authorities, including the health secretaries, to do the respective follow-up and guarantee that Colombians who have entered the country are complying with the compulsory isolation. President Ivan Duque
The government published a decree on Wednesday ordering local and municipal governments to coordinate mass isolation efforts after several regional leaders put in place curfews and other measures. The mayor of Bogota has urged citizens in the city of more than 10 million to participate in a weekend practice for potential future mass isolation.
So far Colombia has 108 confirmed cases of the coronavirus covid-19. No deaths have been reported.
Duque’s government has been criticized for not being clearer in publicizing the travelers’ quarantine, with some tourists taking to social media to say they were not made aware of the requirement when they landed.
“We won’t stop from taking any measure that will protect the health of our citizens,” Duque said in a speech broadcast from the presidential palace in Bogota.