Colombia prohibits entry to foreigners due to coronavirus

Mar 18, 2020

Colombia will ban foreigners access to its territory as of Monday to try to stop the pandemic of the new coronavirus, which has left at least 34 infected in the country, President Iván Duque reported on Sunday.

"I would like to inform the country: as of March 16, the entry into the country of non-nationals and non-residents of Colombia is restricted," the president wrote on Twitter.

Colombians and foreigners living in the country will be able to enter although they will have "mandatory preventive isolation for 14 days" in their homes, he added.

The restriction does not affect diplomatic missions, said the Minister of Transportation, Angela Orozco, at a press conference.

The measure extends the one taken on Friday, when the president ordered the porous border with Venezuela to be closed (with 17 confirmed cases) and to prohibit the entry of foreign travelers from or who have been to Europe and Asia, the main sources of the virus.

Previously, he had ordered isolation for 14 days to those arriving from China, France, Spain and Italy, and to cancel the disembarkation of cruise ships and mass events. 

Later, the president announced the indefinite suspension of face-to-face classes in public schools, in addition to ordering that the holidays in private and state educational entities be advanced so that children and young people isolate themselves. Several universities have followed the same trail.

"Taking into account the evolution of coronaviruses in the country, it will be determined whether to continue with the face-to-face or virtual academic calendar," he added in a tweet.

In addition, the Colombian Bars Association (Asobares), which brings together more than 1,200 entertainment sites in various regions of the country, said in a statement that most of its affiliates will close their stores to contain the spread of the virus.

Colombia reported the first case of COVID-19 on March 6, a 19-year-old girl from the Italian city of Milan.

Since then, 33 other infections have been registered, including that of an elderly American tourist who is hospitalized in the Caribbean port of Cartagena. 

After reporting three infections, the city of Cartagena, one of the main tourist attractions, ordered mobility restrictions in some areas, suspending commercial, tourist and beach activities.

The measures are the strongest taken so far by a local government.

Health authorities have called self-care, examining dozens of suspected cases, and have said they make random visits to people who should be isolated.

Those who fail to comply with the refugee order are exposed to fines, expulsions and criminal proceedings. Between Friday and Saturday, Migración Colombia expelled three Spanish and two French for violating the isolation.


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