Colombian nightlife workers demand end of virus blockade

Bogotá, Colombia (AP) —Hundreds of nightlife workers protested the blockade in the Colombian capital on Monday. The country is suffering from a surge in coronavirus cases, leading to a new set of economic restrictions that have forced many businesses to shut down.

Security guards, DJs, cooks, and bar owners gathered in a square near one of the city’s nightlife districts to carry food with a message calling for help from the government. Then they smashed the dishes on the ground to express their frustration with Colombia’s coronavirus policy.

“Men and women who depend on the nightlife economy can’t keep paying for bad decisions,” said David Contreras, chairman of the Bar Owners Association ASOBARES. “We cannot maintain another blockade.”

Coronavirus cases began to increase in Colombia in early April, and authorities urged curfew and weekend blockades to be imposed on the country’s largest cities. Despite these measures, Colombia is currently experiencing three times as many virus deaths as in March, with approximately 400 people infected with COVID-19 daily. Brazilian and British virus variants have been identified in the capital Bogotá.

Bogotá nightlife workers said it was unfair for the government to shut down daytime industries such as shops and restaurants while they were allowed to operate. They complained that the government’s decision to close nightlife forced people to hold secret parties in unregulated homes.

According to the Columbia Merchant Association FENALCO, more than 27,000 bars and restaurants have been closed since the pandemic began, leading to the unemployment of hundreds of thousands of people.

Many who continue to work work at fairly low wages.

Protest bartender Leticia Ibagué said she was a full-time restaurant employee before the pandemic, earning about $ 400 a month and tipping, but is now paid only by shifts. ..

She earns about one-third of her previous salary and is worried that the new tax proposed by the government to pay for the pandemic could have a further impact on her income.

“We need to be allowed to work on weekends,” Ibagué said. “We don’t get government support, so we need to spend more time maintaining our family.”

Posted on