By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Colombia will keep its land and river borders closed until Jan. 16 to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infections, the country’s migration agency said Monday.
The measure is especially aimed at stopping the flow of migration from neighboring Venezuela, which shares a porous border with Colombia that is crossed by millions of migrants seeking to escape Venezuela’s economic and social crises.
Since the border closures in March, hundreds of Venezuelans have arrived in Colombia through illegal border crossings known as trochas, which are controlled by armed groups.
“We ask people not to risk their lives entering the country in an irregular manner. If you need to enter Colombia and it’s a case of force majeure, we invite you to explain your case to a migration official at the border. This is a time to take care of ourselves and we ask the population not to risk their integrity, leaving their lives in the hands of merchants,” said Migration Director Juan Francisco Espinosa.
Humanitarian emergencies and transportation of cargo and merchandise are exempt from the closures.
Business owners on the Colombian side of the border have asked the government to open the official crossings.
Authorities have allowed international flights since August, and on Monday, the migration agency announced that the sea borders will be opened as of Tuesday.
Colombia continues to register an average of 8,000 coronavirus cases daily. Although the number is significantly lower than the daily tally in August, experts believe Christmas gatherings will cause a new wave of infections.
Colombia has registered more than 1.3 million cases since its first infection was recorded on March 6, according to a tally by US-based Johns Hopkins University.