Business

From Monday, Bogotá's commercial centers will reopen; until COVID-19, Colombia was the fastest growing economy in Latin America

The isolation period would have cost around 10% of the country's GDP. And what about the cost of reopening? What Colombians do know now is that the worst predictions have not been confirmed

The city of Bogotá. Photo: Shutterstock
  • Politicians and civil society organizations understand that now is the time to gradually reopen activities;
  • They defend that in the view of the fact that the worst predictions in terms of numbers of infected people and deaths have not been confirmed.

From this Monday, June 8th, part of Bogotá’s commercial centers will reopen, following a gradual controlled plan agreed with the leader of the capital Claudia López. From June 1st, a reactivation plan began nationwide, but the quarantine status of the country will continue until June 30th, and its emergency situation until August 31st. Colombia it’s an example to be monitored closely, now Until the arrival of COVID-19, the country was the fastest growing economy in Latin America.

Figures gathered by Ricardo Ávila Pinto, analyst and former editor-in-chief of Portafolio, one of Colombia’s most influential business daily, point to a cost of around COP 100 billion for these two months and a half of social isolation measures, equivalent to 10% of the country’s GDP. The effects on the labor market are also devastating.

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As reported by the National Administrative Department of Statistics (Dane), the unemployed population in April increased by more than five million, equivalent to a quarter of the total. April’s figures are not yet consolidated.

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Politicians and civil society organizations understand that now is the time to reopen–Ávila Pinto included. In view of the fact that the worst predictions in terms of numbers of infected people (31.6 million) and deaths (over 317,000) have not been confirmed, reopening is almost inevitable.

Until this Sunday, the country has 38,027 confirmed cases (a third of it in Bogotá’s region) and 1,205 deaths due to COVID-19.

Most of them claim that the health system is better than many believed. On the other hand, Ávila Pinto himself talks about a new danger. “The policy of freeing beds in order to care for the sick from a peak that has not yet taken place was accompanied by an enormous financial deterioration in clinics and hospitals that in more than one case operate at 30% of their capacity. As a result, hundreds of specialists and support staff have been licensed. Should the wave crest occur in a few weeks, the emergency would find a much weaker care network than in March”.

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A fear that, to some extent, is the fear of any country that decides to resume activities at this moment. In the case of Colombia, the risk comes from a common fact in Latin America: the low testing policy for COVID-19, which may be leading the country to resume activities ahead of time. The coming weeks will be decisive in this regard, and they must be monitored closely.