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Colombia extends coronavirus lockdown measures until July 15

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia’s lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus will continue until July 15, President Ivan Duque said in a nightly broadcast on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO - An employee wearing a face shield cleans the shopping carts inside a supermarket during a one-day lifting of sales tax, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bogota Colombia June 19, 2020. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez?

The Andean country has reported more than 73,500 cases of coronavirus and 2,404 deaths.

“The current conditions of obligatory isolation, where we are returning to productivity and moving towards the re-opening of businesses, will continue as they are today until July 15,” Duque said.

Duque first declared a national quarantine to control the spread of the new coronavirus in late March. While certain restrictions have been relaxed, the quarantine was due to lift on July 1.

The government last month gave local mayors discretion over reopening businesses such as hairdressers and barbers, along with museums and libraries.

In municipalities which have not seen coronavirus infections, pilot programs will begin to test the reopening of additional sectors, Duque said.

“We will start to pilot the reopening of restaurants and attending religious worship,” he said.

Currently restaurants are only allowed to serve takeaway meals.

Latin America’s fourth-largest economy has been battered by the measures taken to slow the spread of coronavirus and a slump in oil prices. Crude is one of the country’s top exports and sources of foreign exchange.

The government expects the economy to contract by 5.5% this year. The country has suspended its fiscal deficit limits for 2020 and 2021 and issued billions in bonds as unemployment rises and businesses close during the quarantine.

All international flights have been suspended until at least Aug. 31. The government has said they are likely to resume in September.

Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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