President Ivan Duque is planning a second push to restart Colombia’s economy, this time allowing the reactivation of normal economic activity in regions where the virus hasn’t spread.
A first attempt to restart the economy by opening the construction and manufacturing sectors was largely blocked by mayors and governors who imposed measures slowing this down.
Duque said Saturday that he would now seek regional divisions in coordination with mayors and governors in areas where the virus hasn’t spread to resume economic activity.
After the urban resistance against reopening the economy while the country’s hospitals are still preparing for a post-quarantine outbreak, Duque and his Interior Minister Alicia Arango were considerably more careful coining their second attempt to restart economic activity.
Arango told newspaper El Tiempo on Sunday that the government was thinking about provinces in the Amazon regions and the eastern plains where no infections at all have been confirmed.
Putumayo Governor Buanerges Rosero said he would consider the idea under the condition that the borders of the southern province remain closed to prevent contagion from other parts of the country.
Other governors didn’t immediately respond to the ideas of Duque and Arango amid concerns about the fragility of healthcare in these regions may the virus arrive.
More than six weeks after declaring a national emergency, many hospitals are still short of personal protection equipment and ventilators that would allow them to respond to s surge in infections.
In all cases, Arango said, the local authorities would have the last word, taking into consideration their healthcare capacities.
The first responders in health in the territory are the governors and mayors. They are the ones who make the policies and protocols issued by the Government through the Ministry of Health operational.
Interior Minister Alicia Arango
Coronavirus dramatically decentralized government
The president’s decentralized version of an “intelligent lockdown” is a world apart from his initial strategy that sought a major centralization of power.
Duque unconstitutionally tried to usurp local governments’powers and revoke lower government’s measures to slow down the spread of the virus, triggering a rebellion among mayors and governors.
The government’s plan for a regional approach to the intelligent lockdown would give mayors and governors even more power to demand health resources hospitals say they never received.
This failure to quickly bolster the country’s healthcare system, which was already on the brink of collapse before the pandemic, is the main obstacle to end a lockdown and restart the economy, both on a national and regional level.
Duque initially decreed a lockdown between March 25 and April 27. This was later extended to May 11, but included attempts to restart manufacturing and construction.
The president said Friday he has yet to take a decision on whether to extend or end the lockdown on May 11. Much of this will have to do with the government’s ability to prepare the hospitals and prevent a collapse of the healthcare system.