Colombia town orders vaccine refusers to stay home or face fines, jail

BOGOTA (AFP) – Authorities in a Colombian town have run out of patience with people refusing coronavirus vaccines, ordering them on Monday to stay at home or face a fine, or even prison.

“We have to take a strong stance as leaders… Everyone has to be vaccinated, if not, they cannot circulate in the municipality of Sucre,” the town’s Mayor Elvira Julia Mercado said on Blu Radio.

She decreed a stay-at-home order, lasting eight days, for people who have not yet been vaccinated despite the municipality having enough doses to immunise all its 28,000 inhabitants.

So far, only 10,000 have opted to be immunised, said Mercado, blaming fake news.

“There are religions that are reluctant to get vaccinated, young people because are told they cannot go out for drinks… others that they will die in two years, that the vaccine is evil,” she said.

A senior citizen receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at an inoculation site in Bogota. PHOTO: XINHUA

Under the decree, non-vaccinated people can leave home only to access health services or to go get the shot.

All townsfolk will have to show a vaccine card to access supermarkets, entertainment venues, restaurants, banks and shops.

Those who defy the measure risk a fine equivalent to USD260, and repeat offenders can end up in jail.

The measure will be reviewed in eight days’ time, based on the epidemic situation then.

With 50 million inhabitants, Colombia is the Latin American country with the third-most deaths per capita after Peru and Brazil with nearly five million confirmed infections and 121,000 reported deaths.

Some 12.2 million people have been fully vaccinated.

Sucre is the first municipality in the country to act against vaccine refusers, but Health Minister Fernando Ruiz has warned of similar steps elsewhere.