Orange Alert: New coronavirus controls in parts of Bogotá

Day 58 of quarantine saw special measures introduced for five areas in Bogotá, and protests from sex workers.

The banners showing that Chapinero (Séptima with Calle 62) is on orange alert were up this  morning. Photo Otto Berchem
The banners showing that Chapinero (this one is on Séptima with Calle 62) is on orange alert were up this morning. Photo Otto Berchem

Bogotá Mayor Claudia López today implemented extra new controls in certain zones of the city. These zones – considered the parts of Bogotá that are most at risk – were selected after consultation with the Instituto Distrital de Salud. This stems from various factors,  contact with the virus chief among them but also including density of population and levels of adherence to the rules.

But what does this new alerta naranja mean in practice? Well, it’s a lot clearer than Duque’s orange economy. Essentially, it’s a return to the original quarantine measures from the initial simulacro. However, so far the rules on paper are a little different to life on the streets. At least for now.

Read our latest coverage on the coronavirus in Colombia

One person only from each household is allowed out. There’s limited pet walking, no exercise, and essential travel only. Those who live in the zones but who have permission to work on site will be exempted from having to work for the next two weeks and their employers must accept that. It remains to see how this will pan out in practice. Hawkers and street sellers are still circulating, even though they’re officially not allowed to.

The first zone in Kennedy – which has about 20% of the capital’s total infections – was established on Monday, but the system was then expanded to include various other parts of Kennedy and the first zone in the north: UPZ Pardo Rubio. Confusingly, this UPZ is a few blocks north of Barrio Pardo Rubio – running between Calle 60 and 67 and Carrera 3A and 10. UPZ Britalia – Suba in the barrios of Cantagallo and Mazurén is also amongst the 12 at-risk zones.

The dates for the new measures vary, but most will be in place for about two weeks. For example in Pardo Rubio it initially runs from May 14 to May 25.

The official website says that no one is allowed in or out of the high alert zones, but readers living within them report that there are no checks on the streets to stop them wandering out if they want, so it looks for the moment as if it will be self-policed. However, military police have been seen in the UPZ Patio Bonito, which indicates the possibility of much stronger controls than in Chapinero. In the Pardo Rubio zone, people report no change in policing numbers, and Kennedy Central remains regular.

Cars spraying disinfectant have passed through Patio Bonito, as has been seen in various other countries in recent weeks. On top of this, cars moving around in the zone have been stopped and those that were found to be illegally in transit have been impounded.

People living in the special alert zone in Chapinero were impressed with the speed at which the zone was transformed, with plenty of signage going up within a couple of hours. This means you have no excuse for not knowing when you’re straying in or out of these zones. There are stickers on the pavements, banners across the roads and posters on buildings throughout the area. The main difference here seems to be the absence of rappitenderos not making deliveries.

At the time of publishing, we hadn’t heard of any random testing taking place in any of the zones, but the local authorities say that this will be taking place over the next two weeks. There are support tents in all zones, which you can visit in order to check information, give details and ask for tests.

Thursday also saw a demonstration from sex workers in the south of Chapinero, on Carrera 13 with Calle 45. The workers had travelled from Siete de Agosto and were protesting what they said was a lack of support from the state. One woman, Leidy, said to us that she believed resources from the UN that were destined for sex workers had not arrived.

Sex workers in Bogotá are often among the most vulnerable people in society, especially those working within the Siete de Agosto zona de tolerancia. Many of the sex workers protesting today are excluded from formal state assistance as they are unregistered, foreign or without bank accounts.

The protest on calle 45 with 13 today. Photo: Emma Newbery

Of course, bills still need to be paid and food needs to be bought, meaning that around 80% of the women are still working, according to Leidy. Given that they work with their bodies in the most intimate way imaginable, this means that infection is at very high risk levels. “we don’t want to do this, but there are no options for many of us,” says Leidy, who was conforming with all safety measures on the protest.

In sharp contrast to the low numbers of police a couple of kilometres north in the UPZ, there were roughly 100 police, some with riot gear (although no sign of Esmad), for a protest of a few dozen sex workers. It seems that state control continues to be very different between strata.


  1. Steve is not well. He is a leftist troll and is intoxicated on his general hate for freedom. Not sure if I will be disappointed when he burns in hell.

  2. Mark 1000% correct! The deaths from other unintended consequences will dwarf the number of deaths from the virus!

  3. You are maginalized hoax that the world is laughing at. And a fool for listening to baseless conspiracy theories. Turn off the cap key and go inject some bleach.

  4. I agree with Mark, the government installs horrible policies, pica y genero, fines and other measures but they have misappropriated funds that were to be distributed to the poor, sick and out of work. Not one peso has went to the colombian people. The mayor Claudia Lopez has violated the curfew at least 3 times going out with her gay lover and never even paid a multa. Every two weeks there is a promise to ease restrictions but to no avail. Instead of the police fighting crime they are collecting money for these fines or shaking normal people down.

    • You “agree” with Mark even though he calls it “the flu” but it`s by no means an influenza (flu) virus. He calls it a “hoax” even though many locales like New York City and Italy have been overwhelmed with body counts and have scrambled to find altenative storage solutions. And it`s killed far more people in the US in two months than a bad flu season does in six to seven. This virus is extremely contagious, and much of it`s short term and long term effects are unknown. The purpose of the lockdowns has largely been to get the virus under control so hospital systems aren`t overwhelmed. Now nations can slowly move back to a new “normal” while taking precautions. In the meantime science can work on discovering effective treatments and a vaccine. Is pretty simple, and the vast majority of world citizens accept the predicament. The rest are largely the ignorant that listen to kooky alternative media then come here and use the cap key. Even our liar in chief/US president doesn`t accept these lame opinons any longer.


    • You are a maginalized hoax that the world is laughing at. And a fool for listening to baseless conspiracy theories that even Faux News abandoned long ago. Turn off the cap key and go inject some bleach.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here