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Colombia: COVID-19 Health Emergency Extended until July 1, 2020

(June 9, 2020) On May 28, 2020, the president of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, issued Decree No. 749 of May 28, 2020, extending the health emergency previously declared because of the COVID-19 pandemic and ordering a mandatory preventive quarantine regime to remain in effect from June 1, 2020, to July 1, 2020.

To ensure the effectiveness of the quarantine, the decree restricts the free movement of people and vehicles in the national territory, with the exception that governors and mayors may grant people the right of movement in certain cases, such as to seek health service assistance, purchase basic necessities, and travel to access banking and notary public services. Additionally, they may travel to obtain care for children, adolescents, people over 70 years, people with disabilities, and patients requiring special treatments from trained personnel. Travel is also permitted for work relating to

  • medical missions of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and of international humanitarian and health organizations;
  • public and private health services;
  • the production, supply, storage, transport, marketing, and distribution of medicines and of cleaning and disinfection products for homes and hospitals;
  • emergency services, including veterinary emergencies, and funeral services, burials, and cremations;
  • the production, supply, storage, transportation, marketing, and distribution of products that are basic necessities;
  • hotels hosting those involved in providing COVID-19 healthcare-related services;
  • wholesale and retail trade, including the operation of shopping centers and real estate activities;
  • research and laboratories at educational institutions;
  • hairdressing services; and
  • public parking lots at museums and libraries.

Physical activity and outdoor exercise will be allowed for those aged 18 to 69 years for a maximum of two hours a day; for adults over 70, three times a week for half an hour a day; for children over 6 years old, three times a week for one hour a day; and for children between 2 and 5 years old, three times a week for half an hour a day.

Additional exceptions adopted by governors and mayors must be previously coordinated with the Ministry of the Interior.

Mayors may suspend exempted activities with the authorization of the Ministry of the Interior when a municipality faces an increased risk from the spread of the coronavirus.

Decree No. 749 also provides that the following are not allowed under any circumstances:

  • Public or private events that involve crowds
  • Activities at recreational and amusement facilities, commercial stores, bars, discotheques, and casinos
  • Service at food establishments except through online orders with home delivery or take-out
  • Activities at gyms, swimming pools, spas, saunas, Turkish baths, spas, sports fields, sports centers, and playgrounds
  • Shows at cinemas and theaters
  • Sports and group exercise in public parks and recreation areas
  • Religious services involving crowds or meetings

The decree further extends the use of teleworking for the duration of the health emergency. Accordingly, public and private sector employers must ensure that employees or contractors whose presence is not indispensable onsite may carry out their duties remotely.

Domestic air transportation is suspended until July 1, 2020, and allowed only for humanitarian emergency cases, transportation of cargo and merchandise, and fortuitous events or force majeure.

The decree also enacts the closure of Colombia’s maritime, land, and river borders with Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Panama, and Ecuador from May 31, 2020, until July 1, 2020, except for humanitarian emergency cases, transportation of cargo and merchandise, fortuitous events or force majeure, and the departure of foreign citizens from Colombia in accordance with competent authorities’ mandates.

Violations of the restrictions under Decree No. 749 are subject to a penal sanction provided for in article 368 of the Penal Code, which makes violation of a health care measure adopted by the competent authority to prevent the introduction or spread of an epidemic punishable by imprisonment of four to eight years and additional fines.