SANTIAGO – The Metropolitan region will enter lockdown on Mar. 27 as authorities try to control the recent coronavirus outbreak. More restrictions will be enforced from Mar. 31 to discourage traveling during Easter. Authorities try to stem a third Covid-19 wave as the vaccination campaign progresses speedily.
Nearly one third of daily coronavirus cases are concentrated in the Metropolitan region, which will be locked down from Mar. 27. On Mar. 26, the Health Ministry announced 7,626 new cases, the highest since records began in March 2020.
Authorities are also trying to stop the spread of the Brazilian variant with new restrictions on air travel.
“It’s important that people understand that we are going through a very worrying situation and we are concerned as health authorities, as government, and this is why we urge everyone in Chile to be part of this concern,” Health Minister Enrique Paris said during the daily briefing on Mar. 25.
Furthermore, general transit permits will not be issued during the weekend in quarantined areas, even though the vaccination campaign is progressing fast.
The government had imposed measures to discourage air travel on Mar. 22. The measures are set to intensify from Mar. 31. Government spokesperson Jaime Bellolio said all arrivals must spend five days in a transit hotel at the passenger’s expense, prior to being allowed to travel to their place of stay – if they produce a negative PCR test result – to quarantine for five more days.
Argentina has barred flights from Chile, Brazil, and Mexico. Asked why Chile hasn’t adopted a similar approach, Bellolio said “democratic countries cannot prohibit their citizens from reentering.” He added that the adopted measures will suffice to discourage non-essential travel.
April Elections Despite Lockdown
The government is still confident that the elections will go ahead as planned on Apr. 10 and 11. However, former Health Minister Jaime Mañalich told daily El Mercurio that “there are sufficient factors to postpone or change the elections.” But Paris said the date will remain “unless there is a catastrophe.”
Francisco is finishing his degree in Journalism at Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.