Cuenca stays yellow, tells young people to ‘cool it’; Gas prices increase; Local governments demand payment; Nebot releases referendum

Jul 11, 2020 | 15 comments

The Cuenca Emergency Operations Committee decided Friday to maintain the city’s yellow light health emergency status. The COE said it remained “extremely concerned” about the health care system’s ability to handle Covid-19 cases but said the addition of extra ventilators at the public hospitals has eased immediate pressure.

The Cuenca COE cited the lack of social distancing in city markets as one of the reasons for the increase in Covd-19 cases.

In its written report, the COE blamed the increase of Covid cases on violations of social distancing and other biosecurity measures by the population, particularly young people who gather in large groups to drink or engage in sports. “We appeal to the young of Cuenca to modify their behavior for the benefit of the community,” the report said, adding that policing efforts would increase.

The report also cited “careless behavior” at city markets, especially “cases of close contact and not wearing face masks,” and said attention must be given to social distancing rules on public buses and the tram.

The COE has not received a response to Monday’s request to the national COE to allow it to begin the nightly curfew at 7 p.m. instead of 11 p.m., to reduce the size of public gatherings and to ban the nighttime sale of liquor. Local restaurant owners had objected to the request and petitioned the government to maintain the 11 p.m. curfew, claiming it would devastate business to return to the earlier time.

On Wednesday, the national COE rejected a request by the Loja canton to allow a 7 p.m. curfew and to ban liquor sales.

Mayors and prefects protest non-payment by national government
More than 50 mayors and prefects signed a petition demanding that the national government pay its debt to local governments. Pichincha Prefect Paola Pabón, who has gone to court in an effort to collect payment, claims Quito owes more than $400 million to cantons and prefecturas and is three months in arrears. She says local officials are being forced to take out bank loans to cover operational expenses. The national government does not dispute that it owes the money and says it will pay as soon as possible.

Fuel prices go up Saturday
The cost of gasoline and diesel will increase by five to nine cents a gallon on Saturday, July 11. The government says the increase is based on international prices that have risen in recent weeks. Director of the Agency of Regulation and Control, José Franco, says that the increase is within the five percent adjustment limit established by the government in March and says he expects further monthly upward adjustments as the petroleum market improves.

Nebot referendum questions released
A group led by former Guayaquil mayor Jaime Nebot has released the questions it plans to include on a national referendum to voters. Called the “Movement for National Responsibility,” the group wants constitutional amendments for the following: that the national government make full and timely payments to the Social Security and public health care system; that the national government make full and timely payments to local governments; that the government develop environmental protocols for mining and oil exploration; that those who murder or sexually assault minors receive a minimum prison sentence of 50 years; that the national government make full and timely payments to public universities and respect the constitutional guarantee against budget reductions; that the national budget cover all state expenses without resorting to borrowing. The questions will be submitted to the Constitutional Court for legal review.

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