Santiago, Dec 4 (IANS) Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has extended a state of emergency for the third time, to continue imposing restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The 90-day extension to the state of catastrophe, which was declared more than eight months ago, came amid fears that Chile may see a second wave of infections in early 2021, fuelled by the upcoming holiday season, reports Xinhua news agency.
“The state of catastrophe allows us to restrict the freedoms and movements of people and take measures such as lockdowns or curfews, which we consider necessary and must be able to impose if they become more necessary in the future,” Pinera said on Thursday during a ceremony at the government headquarters commemorating the victims of the pandemic.
Pinera first declared the state of catastrophe on March 18 during the onset of the pandemic, which has so far infected 555,406 people and killed 15,519 others.
Also on Thursday, the government announced special social-distancing regulations for Christmas, New Year and the December 14 total solar eclipse of the sun.
The special plans respond to the need to “anticipate and prevent situations” that will worsen the outbreak, government spokesperson Jaime Bellolio said at a press conference.
Regarding the solar eclipse, best seen from the region of La Araucania in southern Chile, the government announced the closure of routes, restrictions on traffic and the reinforcement of health controls at airport terminals in the area.
For the holidays, Chile’s existing night time curfew will be extended on Christmas Eve, and mass gatherings will be banned nationwide from 8 p.m. on December 24 to 5 a.m. on December 25.
Social gatherings will be limited to 30 people, including residents in the house.
For New Year, the curfew will run from December 31 at 2 a.m., until 7 a.m. on January 1.
Mass gatherings will also be banned from 8 p.m. on December 31 to 5 a.m. on January 2.