For the first time in more than two months, health emergency restrictions are being relaxed in Cuenca. The city joins eight other municipalities in Azuay Province in moving from “red light” to “yellow light” Covid-19 protocols.
Among the changes under yellow light protocols are: the daily curfew will begin at 9 p.m. instead of 2 p.m., ending at 5 a.m.; private stores and offices and public institutions will be allowed to open with 50 percent of staff and 30 percent capacity of customers and clients; owners will be allowed to operate private vehicles two days per week based on license plate numbers; shopping centers and malls can reopen with 30 percent capacity; Local and inter-parish buses will be allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity; and all elective out-patient medical care is authorized.
All personal protection protocols adoped in March remain in place, including the wearing of face masks and social distancing. Among the protocols is the recommendation that those over 60 with younger family members in the household remain isolated.
In addition to Cuenca, the other cantons that are in yellow light status for the week of May 25 to 30 are: Santa Isabel, Girón, Nabón, Gualaceo, Paute, Guachapala, Sevilla de Oro and El Pan.
Conaie backs off protest threat
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) is tamping down threats of an imminent national strike and says it will pursue legal challenges to government policies it claims are unconstitutional. Conaie President Jaime Vargas said Saturday that now is not the time for protests due to the Covid-19 health emergency, and says he prefers to resolve differences with the government in court or through negotiation. “We continue to object in the strongest terms to the attacks on labor contained in the Humanitarian Law and other orders issued by the president but we will seek justice through the judicial process,” he said. “Our immediate priority is to protect our people from the coronavirus and mass gatherings are not the way to accomplish this.”
Last week, Leonidas Iza, president of the Cotopaxi Indigenous and Peasant Movement (MICC), a part of Conaie, said said that a Quito protest was being planned and a nationwide strike would follow. Vargas called the statement “premature.”
U.S. suspends entry of travelers from Brazil
The United States has banned entry of any traveler who has been in Brazil within 14 days due to concern of the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The order was signed Sunday afternoon by President Donald Trump. Brazil has recorded the second most cases of Covid-19 in the world, with 365,000 as of Sunday. The U.S. State Department says it may include other South American countries in the travel ban but will make decisions on a country-by-country basis.
Restaurant owners object to ‘one customer, one table’ plan
Owners in Cuenca and Quito are rejecting a government plan that would allow only one customer per table when restaurants are allowed to reopen. A Quito restaurant owners association also objected to allowing more than one customer per table but only if plexiglas partitions were installed between tables. “On the one hand, they wouldn’t even allow a husband and wife to sit together,” said an unnamed Cuenca restaurant owner. “On the other, most owners do not have the money to put in the partitions they talk about.” A spokesman for the national Emergency Operations Committee said no final decisions have been made about the rules that will apply when restaurants are allowed to reopen to sit-down service.
Moreno’s popularity drops to 14%
President Lenín Moreno’s popularity has dropped to the lowest point of his three-year presidency, according to a new poll by Cedatos-Gallop. Conducted in mid-May, the poll showed only 14 percent of Ecuadorians approve of Moreno’s handling of his job. In August 2017, the president recorded the highest approval rating on record, at 77 percent. Moreno began his fourth year in office May 19 and says he will not run for a second term.
Cuenca newspaper to end publication
The government-owned El Tiempo newspaper will cease publication by the end of the week. The closure is the result of President Lenin Moreno’s order to close eight publicly owned companies, including the post office and Tame airlines. The newspaper began publication in 1956 and was purchased by the government in 2015. All El Tiempo employees are being terminated effective May 31.