BOGOTA, Colombia

Local authorities in Colombia announced new restrictions Tuesday after COVID-19 cases surged in the country following the start of the holiday season.   

Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez announced new regulations in the city, which is registering more than 3,000 daily infections.   

The restrictions include pico y placa, which allows people to leave their homes only for essential errands depending on whether their identity card ends in an odd or even number. Lopez said only one member of the family will be allowed to go shopping in order to avoid crowds. 

“We cannot relax and stop taking care of ourselves. The crowding in commerce and the intensity of family encounters are accelerating the contagion. Nor can we abuse the health sector,” said Lopez. 

The measures come after an escalation of virus cases recorded in recent days in the capital. The restrictions are set to continue through the beginning of 2021.  

Colombian authorities have repeatedly warned against large Christmas gatherings and crowds as the country sees sharp increases in cases and deaths. 

Similar restrictions have been announced in other cities including Medellin, Barranquilla and Cali, where hospitals are on the brink of collapse with ICU occupancy rates above 80%. 

In the capital of Antioquia, Medellin, Mayor Daniel Quintero announced curfews on Dec. 24, 25 and 26 from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. and again on Dec. 31, Jan. 1 and 2. Quintero recommended not to visit relatives, share drinks, or “give hugs to neighbors.”  

The reopening of the Colombian economy began on Sept. 1 under the model of selective isolation and self-care, decreed by the national government. Since then, authorities have talked about a possible resurgence and a new lockdown that could come in January.​​​​​​​ 

Daily confirmed coronavirus cases in Colombia hit a new record Saturday, with 13,990 recorded. Nearly 41,000 people in the country have died from the virus, according to a running tally by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

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