The National Emergency Operations Committee (COE) has issued new restrictions for 18 provinces, extending the nightly curfew and prohibiting liquor sales on weekends. Under the new rules that affect Cuenca and Quito and other communities under yellow light protocols, the curfew will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday through Sunday and the sale of liquor will not be allowed after 7 p.m.
The new restrictions will apply for 15 days beginning Saturday and are subject to extension.
“We understand the special needs of several provinces, particularly in Pichincha and Azuay, where new cases of Covid-19 have surged in recent weeks and it was necessary to adopt new rules to control unauthorized gatherings that usually involve drinking,” Interior Minister María Paula Romo said Wednesday night.
In a morning interview on Teleamazonas, Romo said that the nightly curfew would probably not change from 9 p.m. in Quito and Cuenca. “Once we reviewed the information at the COE meeting, however, it became obvious that we needed to adjust the weekend curfew hours,” she said. “We also understood that the sale of liquor on weekends needed to be restricted.”
Romo blamed the surge in new cases in larger cities on the careless behavior of young people and informal vendors. “We are seeing an alarming number of instances where young people gather to drink and play sports in violation of social distancing restrictions,” she said. “The numbers are especially bad on weekends and national and local law enforcement agencies are intensifying efforts to put a stop to these practices.”
She added that young people who gather in large groups are infecting older family members who suffer more severe symptoms from Covid-19. “The careless behavior is filling our hospitals and any new restrictions the COE adopts will focus on these illegal gatherings.”
Restaurant associations and liquor sales representatives in Cuenca and Quito criticiazed the new restrictions, saying they will hurt businesses and result in loss of employment.
Beginning last week, national police and military personnel have conducted patrols to reduce the number of informal street vendors, particularly around large markets. In Cuenca, the patrols have focused on the 9th de Octubre market and Feria Libre.