The four-day lockdown is the first in Colombia’s second largest city since President Ivan Duque began relaxing his March 25 lockdown in late April.
Medellin’s city center locked down on Monday already after the acting governor declared an orange alert over the rapid saturation of hospitals in the Antioquia province, Colombia’s second largest economy after the capital Bogota.
To prevent a collapse of the city’s hospitals, which would deprive Medellin of any healthcare, Quintero said he is seeking to shut down the city four days a week.
Following this weekend’s shutdown, which coincides with a bank holiday because of Colombia’s Independence Day, Medellin’s mayor will initially only shut down the city on weekends.
Quintero is said to have coordinated the first shut down with the government of President Ivan Duque, but seemingly has yet to convince the national government to approve weekly shutdowns.
Against the advice of Colombia’s medical community and economists, Duque tried to gradually reactivate the economy while the coronavirus was far from under control.
Economists and healthcare organizations have urged the president to implement an emergency basic income that would allow a reactivation of the economy without putting the country’s healthcare system at risk.
Duque’s economic reactivation plan spurred an acceleration of COVID-19 cases that now threatens to collapse healthcare in the country’s capital Bogota and major cities like Medellin and Cali.
Healthcare in major port cities like Barranquilla and Buenaventura, and historically neglected regions in the south of the country has already collapsed.
In his daily COVID show on Facebook, the president ignored the growing threat of a healthcare collapse and claimed that “the country’s COVID-19 indices continue to improve.”