Codelco, Chile’s national copper mining company,  announced that Chuquicamata, Radomiro Tomic, Gabriela Mistral and Minister Hales divisions will stop using the El Loa airport (Calama) for their employees to help alleviate its congestion, as part of a new measure to collaborate with efforts to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) in that city. The measure will be applied directly to its own personnel, and its implementation will be recommended to contractor companies, with the aim to further reduce the flow of entry and exit from the city through the air terminal.

Codelco’s self-imposed restriction will start from the shift change on July 1, with this group of people being the last to enter and leave the city through El Loa airport. It is a transitory measure that will be permanently reviewed according to the information provided by the authority. Codelco’s charter will be used only for exceptional cases, such as critical and support equipment for health emergencies.

According to a local newspaper, El Diario de Antofagasta, Mayor Karen Rojo has requested the executive branch close the airports and put the cities of Antofagasta and Calama under “total hibernation.” Mayor Rojo also requested “to completely stop mining operations.” However, a few days ago, Chilean Minister of Health Enrique Paris said, “It is not possible to implement ‘hibernation,’ because we would leave the people without food and basic services, thus aggravating the situation for those citizens.”

According to Minister Paris, implementing hibernation in Chile would be simply unfeasible and it is not in the government’s plans.