Ecuador could return to ‘normal’ by January, government says; 35,000 driver’s licenses are fake, 5,000 in Azuay Province; Local restrictions to be lifted

Sep 9, 2021 | 23 comments

Ecuador Health Minister Ximena Garzón said Wednesday she believes the country can return to “relative normalcy” by January. “Based on our recent progress with vaccinations and the declining number of cases, I think we can see the end of the pandemic in Ecuador,” she said.

Cuenca bars and discotheques will soon be allowed to reopen.

To return to normal, Garzón said it was important for residents to maintain most health protocols. “To emerge from this, we must maintain our guard, to continue to social distance, wear masks and avoid large crowds,” she said.

Garzón credits recent progress against Covid-19 to the country’s success in vaccinating those over 65 and those who are immunocompromised. “The government has put great effort into protecting this population and today we have fully vaccinated 90 percent of the group, one of the highest levels in the world.”

She said that local communities are already reducing and eliminating some restrictions. “We will see more of this as conditions continue to improve.”

Garzón said that a return to normal does not mean that Covid-19 is going. “The experts tell us this disease will be with us for many years. We will have to learn to live with it and to manage it.”

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Government says 35,000 driver’s licenses are fake
The National Transit Agency (ANT) has identified 35,000 driver’s licenses that have been obtained fraudulently, 5,000 of them in Azuay Province. The agency says 24,000 of fraudulent licenses are in the non-professional class while 11,000 are in the professional class.

According to ANT chief Adrián Castro, the fake professional licenses are particularly troubling. “All licenses not obtained through legal channels are disturbing but that fact that some drivers of public buses and heavy transport vehicles have not been properly tested presents a serious public safety issue,” he says.

The ANT is working with the National Police and Attorney General’s office to identify all fraudulent licenses and prosecute those who sell them.

Cuenca Covid restrictions to be reduced
In its first debate on Covid-19 health restrictions, the Cuenca cantonal council voted Wednesday to reduce driving restrictions, expand capacity in restaurants and public events, and allow the reopening of bars and discotheques. The council meets again Friday for a second debate and final vote, at which time details of the new rules will be decided.

“We are pleased we have reached the stage of the pandemic where we can consider relaxing the regulations that have been in place since early last year,” said councilor Cristian Zamora. “Now it is time to make restrictions more flexible and to reactivate the city’s economy so we can generate more employment.”

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