Authorities in Colombia’s capital Bogota will begin a four-day shutdown drill on Friday in anticipation the coronavirus pandemic may require a real shutdown.
The “Bogota Stays at Home” operation seeks to prepare the city of seven million for a possible shutdown in the event this is necessary in response to the virus, mayor Claudia Lopez said in a press conference on Tuesday.
We have to start preparing for later in case we all have to stay home. That’s why we’re going to do a drill #BogotaSeQuedaCasa, it will be a mandatory home isolation drill. All the details will be released tomorrow for recommendations and the decree will be published on Thursday.
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez
Mayors and governors in other parts of the country have decreed curfews to reduce social mobility and consequential contagion.
Lopez and Government Secretary Luis Ernesto Gomez are taking advantage of the fact that Monday is a public holiday, which reduces the economic effects of the drill.
Gomez told Caracol Radio that the drill includes mandatory home confinement similar to the order issued by President Ivan Duque for people over 70, who will only be allowed to leave home to buy food and medical appointments starting Friday.
“The simulation is precisely to see who can stay at home, under what conditions, and who requires the services of the mayor’s office,” Gomez told the radio station.
People must understand not only the seriousness of what we are experiencing as a society and a city, but also understand what is working in other countries and why we must take one measure or another. Social isolation is the most effective measure to slow down the rate of coronavirus infection.
Bogota Government Secretary Luis Ernesto Gomez
According to Lopez’ right hand, the mandatory confinement drill will include the closure of bars and restaurants, but include exemptions for people who work in supermarkets or other establishments providing essential supplies.
At the same time, authorities will monitor the guarantee of food supplies to and inside the city and the continuity like basic public services like healthcare, security and public transport.
“We have to be very well prepared, and not just for a few weeks, but as the mayor said, it is possible this may take several months,” according to Gomez.
A full-on outbreak of the coronavirus in Colombia, and in mayor cities like Bogota in particular, could trigger the collapse of the public healthcare system, which lacks the capacity to treat a sudden spike in illnesses and has been severely weakened by corruption.