Chilean authorities decided not to reopen the borders throughout May to try to prevent the entry into the country of new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, Health Undersecretary Paula Daza announced. In Santiago, which is under full quarantine, starting Thursday ten communes will go to phase two within the government's step by step plan. On the other hand, various regions in the country which had been spared from a full lockdown will go back to phase 1 since the containment of COVID-19 cases has not turned out as expected.
Workers at major ports and copper mines in Chile are joining a nationwide protest over pensions policy this week that is set to end with a day-long stoppage on April 30. Around 8,000 workers at 25 port terminals are expected to join the protest, according to the Chilean Portworkers Union. Union leaders demand that the President sign into legislation a policy approved by lawmakers, allowing employees to withdraw up to 10% of their pensions savings to help compensate for the impact of the pandemic.
The Government has submitted to the Chamber of Deputies its bill that seeks to allow a third withdrawal of pension funds, as an alternative to the initiative promoted by the opposition, which has already been passed into law. According to the Government, its proposal "addresses the urgent needs of families, granting benefits to 3 million contributors who currently have a zero balance in their individual capitalisation accounts and establishing a mechanism to recover the pension savings withdrawn, thus strengthening future pensions".
The IMF stated that the project for a third withdrawal of 10% of pension funds that is advancing in Chile's Congress is unnecessary, inappropriate and deteriorates the country's pension system. According to the director of the Western Hemisphere in the IMF, the organisation estimates "that a third withdrawal from the pension fund is not necessary and is not the appropriate vehicle to continue deteriorating a structural factor in the pension system."
President Piñera has signed a new migration law which spent eight years in congress before being passed. This new law replaces one of the oldest immigration laws in Latin America, passed in 1975 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, when the military regime sought to restrict the entry of migrants. According to Piñera, the objective of this new law "is to put order in our house through an orderly, safe and regular policy that allows legal immigration and combats illegal immigration."
Chile's Labor Minister María José Zaldívar submitted her resignation Wednesday to President Sebastián Piñera, who accepted it and announced he would appoint Deputy Patricio Melero to succeed her. Zaldívar's intentions to leave her job were no surprise as the pension reform failed to go her way.
President Sebastián Piñera signed into law an economic aid package for the middle class that includes the delivery of a bonus and an increase in the coverage of the Emergency Family Income (IFE). The total cost of both measures is $6 billion.
The Chilean government has urged the mining industry to step up measures to protect staff from the Covid-19 pandemic as the South American country suffers a massive surge in new cases. The number of new coronavirus cases reported daily in Chile has soared to over 8,000, up from 2,000 last December, putting the country's health service under unprecedented strain.
President Sebastian Piñera proposed delaying elections that will choose a commission to rewrite the country's dictatorship-era constitution, due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Piñera said that he will present a proposal, for Congress approval, to postpone the April election until May.
More than 16 million people in Chile are under total quarantine due to increasing cases of COVID-19. The measure, which affects 97% of the country's population, was reinforced with the suspension of permits to make purchases, also including the closure of supermarkets and the suspension of the operation of markets throughout the country. The Chilean hospital network is on the verge of collapse, with an occupancy of 95% and the availability of 147 intensive care (ICU) beds.