COE updates health restrictions, easing daily curfew; Cuenca hospital director wants a return to ‘red light’; Bus owners demand 50 cent fare

Jul 1, 2020 | 18 comments

The national Emergency Operations Committee (COE) loosened health emergency restrictions on Tuesday, relaxing the daily curfew and allowing the reopening of cinemas and theaters at 30 percent capacity.

Hospitals in Quito and Cuenca report that they are near or at full intensive care capacity due to Covid-19.

Under yellow light conditions, which applies to more than 80 percent of the country, the daily curfew begins at 11 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. and ends at 5 a.m. beginning July 1. Private vehicles, in addition to their current schedule, will be allowed to circulate on alternate Sundays (on July 5 and 12, cars with odd plates will be permitted while on Sunday, July 19 and 29, cars with even plates can circulate).

There is no curfew for the eight cantons under green light status.

Under the relaxed rules, taxis and mixed transport (people and light cargo) are allowed to operate every day regardless of license number.

Although it remains yellow, the changes do not apply to Quito due to concerns about the increasing number of Covid-19 cases. Curfew in Quito begins at 5 p.m. Rules for urban and interprovincial buses does not change: They can operate at 50 percent capacity following approval by cantonal COEs.

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The national COE said that bars, night clubs, gyms and child daycare centers will remain closed until further notice but said national borders and public beaches will reopen July 22. It added that a decision about reopening schools in the sierra in September will be made later this month.

Hospital director: ‘Return Cuenca to red light rules’

Juan Carlos Milibak

In a Tuesday interview on Radio Tomebamba, the director of Cuenca’s Social Security (IESS) hospital, Juan Carlos Milibak, urged the cantonal Emergency Operations Committee to return Cuenca to red light health emergency restrictions. He said that all intensive care beds are full at the IESS and Vicente Corral Moscoso public hospitals. “Since the city moved to yellow light May 25, the number of Covid patients at our hospitals has doubled, from 57 to 101,” he said. “The increase is also putting great strain on our ability to accommodate patients with other illnesses or injuries.”

Milibak said that the IESS hospital is currently caring for 101 Covid patients, 35 in critical condition, 66 stable.

So far, the Cuenca COE has resisted calls to return to red light status as has the national COE, which says such a move would be “economically and socially devastating.”

Cuenca bus owners ask for city support, increased fares
Following the lead of Quito bus companies, Cuenca owners are demanding that the city provide a subsidy or allow them to raise fares to 50 cents due to the health emergency. Manolo Solís, vice-president of the Cuenca Chamber of Transportation, says buses cannot continue to operate current routes without addition income. “We run at 50 percent capacity due to the virus but we are not able to even fill that amount due to  unemployment and fear,” he said. “Some buses operate at 10 percent capacity or less.”

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