14 May 2020
The Government of Colombia has taken preventive isolation measures, special measures in the Trade, Industry and Tourism sector, and social measures in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the population ante national economy.

Notable in the last week is Decree No. 637 from May 6, 2020, in which the State of Social and Economic Emergency was decreed for a period of 30 days.
Decree No. 636 from May 6, 2020, extended compulsory preventive isolation from May 11, 2020, to May 25, 2020, given the nationwide health emergency.
The decree also established that the governors and mayors would be the ones to adopt the instructions, acts, and orders necessary for the proper execution of the compulsory preventive isolation measures. Circulation of people and vehicles within Colombia was also curtailed across the board.
As for exceptions, some of those determined in the previous decrees are maintained and new sectors are included so that they may recommence operations, among them:
The wholesale and retail of construction materials, hardware, locks, glass products, and paint; the chain of production, supply, storage, repair, maintenance, transportation, and distribution of manufacturers of (i) motor vehicles, trailers, and semi-trailers, (ii) motorcycles, (iii) furniture, mattresses, and bed frames; the manufacture, maintenance and repair of computers, peripheral devices, communication devices, electronics, and optical devices; retail of fuel, lubricants, additives and cleaning products for vehicles, books, newspapers, stationery and office supplies; wholesale of furniture and household goods; and wholesale and retail of motor vehicles and motorcycles, including parts, fittings, and accessories.
Decree No. 639 from May 8, 2020, also aims to create the Program to Support Formal Employment (PAEF), with resources from the Emergency Mitigation Fund (FOME), as a government social program that will grant beneficiaries a monthly monetary contribution from the state, up to three times, in order to support and protect the country's formal employment during the pandemic.
Beneficiaries are legal persons that meet the following requirements:

1.    Registered before January 1, 2020.
2.    For companies registered in 2018 or earlier, registration updated in 2019 or 2020.
3.    Demonstrate need for state contribution, certifying an income decrease of twenty percent (20%) or more.
4.    Not received the contribution on three prior occasions.

In addition, the company must have a bank account in a financial institution monitored by the Colombian Superintendence of Finance.
It is important to note that the decree does not apply to:
1.    Entities in which public institutions hold a stake of 50% or more.
2.    Natural persons who have employees.

The Ministry of Finance will determine the method for calculating the decrease in income and the UGPP (Pension and Parafiscal Management Unit) may verify compliance with the requirements established for access to the program.
Companies that comply with the stipulated requirements must present the following documents to the financial institution with which they have a bank account:

1.    Application signed by the company's legal representative, stating the intention to be a beneficiary of the Program to Support Formal Employment.
2.    Certificate of Existence and Legal Representation, in which the name and identification number of the legal representative signing the application is stated.


3.    Certification signed by the legal representative or the fiscal auditor (or a public accountant if the company is not required to have a fiscal auditor) stating:
a.    The number of formal jobs that will be maintained in the corresponding month by means of the state contribution. 
b.    The decrease in income, certified by the Ministry of Finance.
c.    That the resources requested and effectively received will be destined solely and exclusively to payment of the salaries of individuals formally employed by the beneficiary.

The PAEF state contribution will be paid during May, June, July, on a monthly basis, to beneficiaries that meet the requirements and fulfil the procedures.
It is also important to stress that, without precluding any liability, this state contribution must be returned to the state by the beneficiary if:

1.    The contribution was not used to pay employee salaries corresponding to the number of employees, as expressed in the terms of Article 3, Paragraph 1, of the decree in question.
2.    Having received the contribution, it becomes evident that, at the time of application, the beneficiary did not comply with the requirements.
3.    It is proven that the documents presented to satisfy the requirements stipulated for the allocation of the state contribution from the Program of Support to Formal Employment (PAEF) were false. For this purpose, a statement from the institution from which the document originated contradicting the content of the documents presented will be sufficient.
4.    The beneficiary states that the contribution received was greater than that actually used to pay the salaries of the workers in the respective month. In this case only, the amount returned will correspond to the difference between what was received and what was actually paid out in salaries for that month, the object of the legislative decree. The financial institution through which the refund of this contribution was conducted must certify the return.

The decree establishes too that the following will be exempt from the Financial Transactions Tax:

1.    Transfers of the funds corresponding to the contributions referred to in this decree between the accounts of the National Treasury—Ministry of Finance and the financial institutions that will distribute the resources.
2.    Transfers of the funds corresponding to the contributions referred to in Article 1 of the legislative decree between the financial institutions and the beneficiaries of the PAEF.
In addition, the commission or service charge by financial institutions that distribute resources to the beneficiaries of the program will be excluded from VAT. These contributions are immune from seizure and cannot be used to pay liabilities owed to banks.
Finally, the financial institutions involved, the UGPP and, generally speaking, all parties involved in the Program, should facilitate virtual channels and, as far as possible, encourage the use of electronic means to comply with the requirements, processes, and legislative acts established.

Legislative measures for the metalworking sector
In addition to the measures indicated above, Resolution No. 522 from May 8 stipulates provisions for this particular economic sector. 
The sub-sectors and productive chains that have permission to circulate are described below (they are included among the new activities in Decree No. 636).
The following subsectors and chains are allowed the right to circulate, according to Resolution No. 139 of 2012 on the Classification of Economic Activities by the DIAN.

DIAN Classification Codes

Sub-sector

4663

Wholesale and retail of building materials, hardware, paint, glass products, plumbing materials, and heating equipment and materials

4752

2910

 

 

Wholesale and retail of the chain of production, supply, storage, repair, maintenance, transportation, and distribution of manufacturers of (i) motor vehicles, trailers, and semi-trailers, (ii) motorcycles, (iii) furniture, mattresses, and bed frames

2920

2930

3091

3110

3120

4520

4542

9524

2610

 

 

 

 

Manufacture, maintenance and repair of computers, peripheral devices, communication devices, electronics, and optical devices

2620

2630

2640

2651

2652

2670

2680

3313

3314

9511

9512

4511

 

(i) Retail of books, newspapers, stationery and office supplies; (ii) wholesale trade of furniture and household goods; (iii) wholesale and retail trade of motor vehicles and motorcycles, including parts, fittings, and accessories

4512

4530

4541

4644

4649

4761

9601

Home laundry service

For this purpose, each must comply with the biosecurity protocols established by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, as well as complementary instructions adopted by regional authorities where the business operates.
The municipal or district secretariat, or the institution functioning as such, shall validate compliance with the protocols.
For its part, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Tourism will produce an app for the representatives of the regional authorities to report and register, every Thursday, the number of companies that request authorization to resume activities and those that have authorization.

Legislative measures for the 4.0 industries sector 

For this sector, Resolution No. 735-2020 establishes biosafety protocols that must be adopted.
It establishes guidelines for how COVID-19 risk is to be managed and controlled in call centers, contact centers, technical support centers, data processing centers, shared service centers (including business process outsourcing), as well as delivery services, courier services, and digital platforms.
One of the guidelines indicates that there should be one glycerin alcohol dispenser for every 25 employees in a given area, so that proper hand hygiene can be maintained, as well as ensuring compliance with physical distance of no less than two meters in shared spaces.  
In addition, cleaning and disinfection should be performed at least three times a day on bathrooms, shared spaces, door handles, elevators, turnstiles, doors, coffee machines, and ATMs, should these exist. Similarly, floors, divisions, furniture, chairs, workstations, computers, and lockers should be cleaned and disinfected twice a day.
At each shift change, work items such as keyboards, screens, mouses, phones, and headsets must be cleaned and disinfected. Specialized disinfection with vaporizers must be done weekly on all floors and shared spaces or as soon as a case is identified.
Face-to-face meetings should be avoided. In the event that this is impossible, the distance between people should be two meters, ensuring ventilation and that all participants use masks.
Shift assignment is also important. However, those who do not have internet connectivity at home or do not meet the requirement and security standards for information management may work at the office. The same applies for those who, given the work they do with applications and the sensitivity of the information they handle, cannot work remotely.
In addition, a record should be kept of flu or COVID-19 leaves by area. In this way it can be determined whether the operation as a whole or any worker in particular should be quarantined to establish monitoring and control in the event of infection. 
Finally, the health status and temperature of personnel should be monitored daily. Those who work at home must report their health status and temperature.

Delivery and courier services

Various recommendations were issued to those working in this sector:
-    The vehicle in which articles are transported to homes must be cleaned and disinfected at the beginning and end of the day
-    The use of protective measures is compulsory during journeys
-    At the point of delivery, the use of a mask and gloves is compulsory
-    Orders must not be taken in person, only online or by phone
-    The client must be informed of mode of payment and, as far as possible, payment in cash should be avoided; if it is in cash, the recommendation is to pay the exact value so as to avoid receiving change
-    A record of customer deliveries must be kept with address and telephone number, to serve as a reference for health authorities in the event any worker or delivery partner tests positive for COVID-19
-    The minimum distance is two meters between couriers or delivery partners during journeys
-    Similarly, when delivering to a home and meeting centers or when waiting to receive an order, groups of more than five people should be avoided, and all persons should maintain the minimum distance and use masks
-    The product delivered should be double-packaged in two bags
The product must be taken out of the bag and, upon entering the home, should be removed from the packaging and washed and disinfected

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