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

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.

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.”

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

  1. If the buses are running at 50% or 10% wouldn’t it be wise to only be running 10% or 50% of the busses? Kind of a supply and demand idea instead of charging the general population for something that isn’t being used.

    1. They are contracted to run on a schedule. The rise in fare may be the best option,
      It’s easy for me to say that, but if it’s an essential service it can’t be lost to bankruptcy, can it.

      1. Raise the fares. Clearly government can’t afford more subsidies right now. Even then,
        may be necessary for some
        bus owners to mothball some of their buses reducing frequency of routes. It would be a good time to allow Uber and Cabify, of course with the same security protocols and other conditions like taxes.

    2. It’s looking like, when it starts to charge its thirty-five cent fare, the tram will be a bargain if the buses are allowed to raise their rates.

      1. Then what would be the total cost for me to take a bus to the tram line then the tram to central one way.

      2. They both need to be more than $0.50 in order to break even. Most likely between $0.70 and $0.80.

        1. It’s $3.50 in Toronto, or at least it was they have probably raised the rate since I’ve been here…

      3. Even at .50 for either the tram or buses…..Isn’t that the greatest bargain on Earth??

          1. As compared to what, walks like an expat, talks like an expat, it’s an expat… if they can’t borrow money and they have to be fiscally responsible from this point forward, then the rates must rise to meet the expense, that’s just straight economics. This will be the result of the constitutional amendment that is proposed… and I hope it passes, it will help stop systemic borrowing and passing the debt to the next generation, making them slaves just like their parents.

  2. I spent some time running errands this morning and this enabled me to observe both the buses and the tranvía. Despite the edict I read whereby the tranvía would resume 50% seating, every car I observed was packed full. On the other hand, I counted 15 passing buses and 5 of them were totally empty and the other 10 were less than 10% full.

    It is clear to me that the bus owners can’t possibly survive under these circumstances. A taxi driver offered the observation that one of the reasons the buses were so empty is that the tranvía is free and the local people will ride the tranvia even if it doesn’t serve them as well as the bus might if they were willing to pay for it. In other words, the tranvía is directly taking passengers from the buses.

    Even if this is only a partial cause for the current low bus ridership that will ameliorate once the city starts charging for the tranvía, things may improve for the bus owners once people have to begin paying for the tranvía. Whether this will be sufficient to keep them solvent is doubtful. I have no idea what the price elasticity of bus fares is here in Cuenca, but a fare increase may be necessary to keep this vital public transportation alive.

      1. I was denied entry on two trams yesterday when they were at their restricted limits, they are enforcing the number of people on them. If you get on the tram you’ll see they have spots on the floor and once they are all taken, no one is allowed to enter. Every second seat is taped off as well.
        They will be starting to charge on the 21st was what I was told by the transvia employee on the tram. That should help the buses.

  3. COE are you paying attention. This is NOT the time to relax restrictions. What are you thinking?

  4. I am sorry for all of this. People do not care. I was in a Gringo bar last night. It was packed – FULL……. how is this ok ? Please help me understand. Thank you.

    1. Seriously? I hope they weren’t serving libations. And I would have to question your own judgement in going to a bar at night in the first place.

    2. There are restrictions to the number of patrons allowed and social distance rules should be followed. What bar was it? They should be closed if they can’t follow the rules, this isn’t the southern states, it’s Cuenca, where we actually care and follow the guidelines, it’s not a political statement, and all the ICU beds are full. If they want to break the rules, go back to the states where it’s a free for all.

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