Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities to ease international travel restrictions related to coronavirus disease starting Sept. 19.

Alert Begins 17 Sep 2020 06:11 PM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions; increased security

Beginning Sept. 19, authorities in Colombia will ease international travel restrictions put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Under the new directives, international travel with the US, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Guatemala will be permitted; however, these flights will only be accessible in specific airports. Beginning Sept. 19, international flights will only operate from the Rafael Nunez International Airport (CTG) in Cartagena. Starting Sept. 21, international flights will operate from El Dorado International Airport in Bogota (BOG), the Jose Maria Cordova airport in Medellin (MDE), and the Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport (CLO) in Cali. Travelers must wear a protective face covering at all times. In addition, international travelers entering Colombia must provide a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result taken no more than four days prior to the travel date. The country's land and maritime borders will remain closed except for cargo and humanitarian aid.

All open establishments must continue to follow strict safety and sanitation guidelines. Limits may be placed on operating capacity.

The following restrictions will remain in place nationwide:


  • Restaurants may operate with a 50-person capacity limit. No alcohol may be served.


  • Entertainment establishments, including cinemas, theaters, bars, and casinos, are allowed to open. No alcohol may be served. Nightclubs remain closed.


  • Spas and sporting facilities, such as gymnasiums and swimming pools are open, with a maximum capacity of 50 people. Sporting events are prohibited.


  • Religious services may take place in certain municipalities but may have no more than 50 people in attendance.


Municipal officials have the authority to suspend certain activities or enforce tighter movement restrictions depending on local disease activity.

Despite the relaxing of some restrictions, transport and business disruptions remain possible. Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by the Colombian government are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Colombian President Ivan Duque explained the gradual reopening of the economy would be localized and take into consideration specific characteristics of departments and cities. Restrictions may vary by location. Local governments are permitted to suspend activities depending on the amount of confirmed cases. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, restrictions may be reapplied. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in a further relaxation of restrictions.

Follow all official instructions. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for long lines and delays at available shopping centers. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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