Over 20,000 cars have left the capital on the first day of the Easter holidays. The majority are expected to head to the Chilean coast to enjoy the last rays of sunshine before winter. The outflux was heavily criticized on social media, where people attacked the vacationers as irresponsible in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
#NoEntendieronNada or “they didn’t understand anything” is a trending topic in Chile, as thousands of residents of the capital, Santiago, head to beaches and coastal towns on the first day of Semana Santa, Easter Week. To date, Chile has more than 6,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, but the current outbreak doesn’t hold people back from traveling during the long weekend.
Since Thursday, the Chilean police have systematically sealed off the city to stop large groups of people from leaving the capital. A cordon sanitaire around the capital was meant to make sure people would not use the Easter holidays as a vacation. Thousands of police officers were called in to intensify controls and roadblocks were put up on major roads around the city.
People are prohibited from visiting their holiday houses, but this did not stop the wealthier citizens of the capital from traveling. The local government announced that some had even fled the city using helicopters in the days ahead of the Easter holidays.
In the early hours of Friday, the Chilean police reported that more than 23,000 vehicles had left Santiago. Only 262 were sent back for not complying with the rules. According to the police reports, all other vehicles had legitimate reasons to be traveling. Footage that appeared on social media of overcrowded beaches and coastal towns indicates otherwise.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.