The national Emergency Operations Committee (COE) updated the pandemic health restrictions Tuesday, banning many holiday events and mandating vaccine cards for entrance to restaurants, bars, supermarkets, shopping malls and church services.
The new restrictions take effect Friday, December 17 and continue to Monday, January 3, subject to change.
According to Juan Zapata, COE president, the new measures are necessary due an increase in Covid-19 cases in Pichincha, Guayas, Manabí and El Oro Provinces and to prevent a surge in Covid-19 cases due to holiday gatherings. He said the COE is also concerned about the new Omicron variant that is spreading through much of the world.
Zapata said that Christmas and New Year’s events that have already been permitted by local governments and National Police can proceed, with additional health precautions, but no additional events will be sanctioned. “We regret the decision but must put public health above traditions of the season,” he said. “The police will be tasked with enforcing the rules.”
Regarding the requirement for proof of vaccination to enter businesses and churches, Zapata said the previous COE recommendation that the rule be enforced by municipalities did not work. “Unfortunately, our suggestion to local governments was mostly ignored so we must make this requirement mandatory from the national level.”
He said that procedures that businesses and churces must follow are still being determined and will available before Friday.
The previous capacity limit of 50 percent remains in place for restaurants, bars, discotheques, brothels, convention centers and social clubs. Supermarkets, shopping centers, markets and churches are limited to 75 percent capacity. A vaccination certificate confirming that the entrant has received two doses of the Covid vaccine will be required for all persons over the age of 12 at locations with limited capacity.
In addition, the COE ordered that beaches not exceed 75 percent capacity and be open only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Zapata said the increase in Covid-19 cases has been “relatively small but progessive in recent weeks” and that the number of deaths remains low. “We have special concern for communities with a low vaccination, especially in the Amazon provinces. We expect a rise in infections in these areas.”