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Government reduces restrictions nationwide; Dispute keeps Cuenca buses off the street; Restaurants reopen; Air traffic resumes Monday

Claiming that the risks of the Covid-19 virus are declining, the National Emergency Operations Committee (COE) relaxed many of the health emergency restrictions that have been in place since mid-March. “We have endured 77 days of isolation and extreme restrictions on our lives and because of the progress we have made we feel comfortable accelerating our return to normalcy,” said Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo. “We have adjusted the protocols of our traffic light system to reflect these changes which will go into effect June 1.”

She said that the relaxed rules apply to red, yellow and green light designations in all 221 of the country’s cantons and can be changed only with the approval of the national COE. “The national government is assuming authority over local jurisdictions based on the reduction of infections and other data that we have collected.”

She added that Quito has been given permission to move to a “modified” yellow light status next week due to concerns of increasing Covid infections in some neighborhoods.

For Cuenca, which is under yellow light protocols, the following restrictions now apply:

  • Private vehicles can operate from Monday to Saturday with license plates ending in odd numbers circulating on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while those with even numbers can circulate on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
  • No private vehicles can circulate on Sunday.
  • Municipal buses can operate at 50% capacity without other restrictions.
  • Taxis can operate under the same odd-even daily circulation rules as private vehicles.
  • Inter-parish and inter-cantonal buses are allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
  • Restaurants can reopen with 30% capacity.
  • Companies can resume normal work routines, respecting biosecurity measures.
  • Telecommuting is still encouraged.
  • Curfew continues from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.

Virus update

Payment dispute keeps city buses off the street

Cuenca city buses remain sidelined due to a dispute with the city.

Cuenca’s municipal bus service has not resumed as the city refuses to compensate bus owners for losses due to the Covid-19 health emergency. Bus owners say they cannot afford to operate at 30 percent capacity and demand that the city compensate them for losses. Mayor Pedro Palacios says the health crisis is not the result of action by the municipality and that all sectors have suffered from it. “I understand the situation but we are not in a position to subsidize private businesses even if we had excess resources, which we do not.” Talks are continuing and the mayor said he hopes the government’s Wednesday decision to allow 50 percent ridership will settle the dispute.

National and International air service resumes June 1
Interior Minister María Paula reconfirmed on Monday that national and international airline flights will resume Monday, June 1. She said that flights will be restricted to 30 percent seating capacity and that Covid-19 testing requirements will apply to international air arrivals. Following an agreement with Guayaquil Mayor Cynthia Viteri, Romo said the national Emergency Operations Committee has agreed to delay the start of air service at the Guayaquil airport until June 15.

It is unclear which airlines will be available for service June 1 and flight schedules remain undetermined. Romo said that information would become available before Monday.

Some Cuenca restaurants reopen
At least 32 restaurants have been approved to reopen for sit-down service, the Cuenca tourism office reported on Wednesday. Restaurants will be allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity with table spacing subject to social distancing standards. The tourism office said it expects hundreds of restaurants to reopen by the second week in June.

Gyms and fitness centers prepare reopening plans
Organizations that represent Ecuador’s gyms and fitness centers say they are developing a proposal to present to the national Emergency Operations Committee next week. According to officials of the Ecuador Gymnasium Association, the plan incorporates rules adopted in the U.S., Spain and China, which mandate a variety of social distancing, work-out time limits, gym capacity and disinfecting protocols. The rules include a ban on those over 60 but the association says it hopes to find a “work-around” to allow access to seniors.

Inter-parish buses resume operation
The Cuenca COE has cleared 96 inter-parish buses to begin operation. The buses will operate at 50 percent capacity under new national rules released on Wednesday.

89 thoughts on “Government reduces restrictions nationwide; Dispute keeps Cuenca buses off the street; Restaurants reopen; Air traffic resumes Monday

  1. The Cuenca mayor said “we are not in a position to subsidize private businesses even if we had excess resources, which we do not.”
    I wonder where the resources went? How is that tram working out and who is subsidizing it?
    The tram needs to be sold to private investors since it is a great asset.

    1. An alternative idea would be to raise the fare to break even at minimum. P/L projections indicate that it would be about $0.70 or slightly more. If it is such an awesome experience, as gringo riders are reporting, people would pay that.

      What investor would purchase a hemorrhaging enterprise like the tranvia?

      1. Basically, you are clueless. Locals couldn’t afford to ride the tranvía if the fare was 70 cents or more and the losses would grow even more. Public transportation has always been a subsidized asset in every city in the world that offers public transport for the greater good. Get used to it.

        1. I’ll ignore the condescending remark.

          The governments that subsidize services have to generate revenues to pay. If someone really wants to solve the problem, they should look at ways for the governments of Ecuador and Cuenca to become solvent. That would be a real solution.

              1. Look inward, John. Why ask for others to provide solutions before you have done so yourself.

                  1. If one doesn’t bring anything to the conversation, it’s not a dialogue. That includes one time snipers like yourself who have nothing to say.

        2. Yea Don, I must have missed it through all the negativity. So, what exactly is your SPECIFIC remedy? Hmmm. Didn’t think so.

      2. I like the idea of jacking the rates up to $10 each way. That way it would put people in the place they belong in.

    2. Only $250,000,000 for that tram, that’s a great deal I checked again yesterday, the average 4 lane highway costs $8 million per mile and the average subway costs $350,000,000 per mile. That’s not accounting for the cars and training… good work whoever developed and built this system from scratch for only $250,000,000… it took a long time but totally worth it.
      The best part is it’s right at my doorstep and I can just walk 30 steps to a platform and go right across the whole city.

      1. How many meals would that provide for the Cuencanoes that don’t have jobs and can’t afford to pay for a loser with their taxes?

        1. How many people could be fed in the world with all the money spent on rockets and space ships going up in space. The same rockets that damage our ozone layer

          1. And just think how many millions of people could have been fed with the more than $6 trillion the US has wasted blowing up innocent men, women and children all over the globe since 9-11. Far, far more than what has been expended on the space program in that time span and far more destructive.

            1. Finally! Something germane and important. My only prayer is that Biden has the balls to break from the path that war mongering hillary would have taken.

            2. Just think of how many lives and jobs were saved spending money propping up the stock market!

            3. how many innocent lives were lost on sept 11
              and how many innocent first responders have health issues from the debris. Were you one of the ones clapping your hands with glee at this devastation

              1. Esmeralda asks: “Were you one of the ones clapping your hands with glee at this devastation?” (9-11)

                First of all, there is nothing I could say (or that CHL would print) in appropriate response to such a despicable, deplorable, egregious insult. That you would even stoop to writing such trash is perfectly demonstrative of how I have long perceived your character and your temperament.

                In answer to your rhetorical questions (“[H]ow many innocent lives were lost on sept 11 and how many innocent first responders have health issues from the debris?”)

                Every loss of innocent life is a tragedy. But how does that justify the wanton murder of millions of innocent men, women and children? How does that excuse the unfathomable depth of human misery and destruction of lives that we have caused? How does that excuse creating exponentially more justifiably angry and motivated jihadis?

                Surely you’re not suggesting that our actions are justifiable in any way? Surely you’re not really that heartless, selfish, hateful and cruel?

          2. Good point Esmeralda. There would be many. Add to that, the tram, and all the military equipment being made and used worldwide. Society would be better off.

            1. Wow I took the beautiful new tram this morning and had coffee in el Centro, so convenient and nice, when tourism starts up again they will love it. It’s a great way to see the city. Reminds me of Europe, we took the trams in Vienna across the city and stopped at all the interesting places we could see… It will work just like that here and the local economy will boom over it..

              1. Do you by any chance know the 9 year old girls name south of here that hung herself because she and her family hadn’t eaten for 3 days

                  1. I don’t know her name but I would bet she would have loved to have some food that the waste of money on the tram could have bought. Since this child had already died there wasn’t much that I could have done other than be devastated at the insensitivity of people that go on enjoying their waste while others are dying.

                    1. Maybe her family has a shop beside the tram. It could have saved her life if it was built and opened just a little while earlier…

                    2. Mike, I will not honor your disrespect of a dead child to let you continue playing your games.

                    3. How did you personally honour her? You did nothing for her and you are using her memory for your petty personal purpose as we speak.. you have no say in the city planning, that’s beyond your abilities and competence. Obviously the planners thought which vehicle would be the best for their plan, that’s the one they picked. I happen to believe they made the right choice and you have no choice. Enjoy the ride on tranvia.

              2. Ring kai Ring! with a little side trip to the Prater. I used to ride that all day and all night, as I was so in love with those old cars. I’m going back as soon as this shut down is over.

                1. We spent a whole day going from sausage stand to sausage stand around the ring… great day…

                  1. You have brought a smile to my face and have made my mouth water. $2 for a sausage and $1 for some really good hot chestnuts can’t be beat.

                    Have you ever gotten the $2 “standing room seats” for the Vienna Opera? If you know about that deal, I won’t have to say another word.

                    1. I proposed to my wife in the opera.. loved it beautiful building.. it’s funny I never thought I would enjoy an opera..
                      We spent some $700 euro for 4 seats on main floor… we did sit outside the next night and watched the vienna symphony orchestra…

                    2. Bad move those seats you bought. The SRO “seats” are in the dead center of the theater, in the front. They are actually kneeling seats with a set-up like the ergo chairs I’m sure you have seen. Quite comfortable, actually. The cost was $2 back around the early 90s. Usually the Viennese are cultured enough to leave those seats for college students. They don’t sell them in advance.

                    3. We are planning a trip back to Vienna in the fall, providing the airlines are back up and operational. I’ll look into those seats, don’t want to take one away from a college student,,, we usually go with our friends that live in the suburbs of Vienna… they buy the ticket far in advance, I told him we want tickets to an opera with a happy ending… LoL….

  2. The graphic says these rules begin June 1. The text says “now.” Does anyone know which is correct? I would hate to have my car impounded.

  3. After widespread reports, video, and photos of people not wearing masks, or wearing them below the nose which is “no mask” too in the Historical District many Cuencanos will be avoiding it like the “plague” (no pun intended).

    The Historical District has always been crowded anyway. There has been lots of talk over the years about making it pedestrian only. Now would be a great time to revisit that.

    1. Expats that don’t own cars are constantly lobbying for Cuenca to ban motor vehicles.

      1. Studies have shown that over half the vehicles in the Historical District are just using it as a “pass through” short cut.

        1. That is interesting. Please provide the source of the study as I’m always interested in studies, their methodology, and conclusions.

          1. Me, too. Are you aware that 97.385% of all stats and studies cited on the internet are made up?

            1. It was published several years ago here at CHL. I don’t have any interest in playing “fetch” for you. Get a dog.

            2. Yep. And the first clue is that the sources aren’t cited or based on any empirical evidence.

  4. What about manibi let the minister know there are other people in Ecuador beside Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil,

  5. Last week we couldn’t leave the house after 2 PM. This week we’re allowed to joy ride on a crowded tranvia. The ride is free to entice as many joy riders as possible. Meanwhile, serious public transportation like a bus was allowed to resume at 30% capacity. Some teeth were pulled and we got it raised to 50% capacity. That leads one to believe that the chance of infection is lower on a train than a bus. Does that have something to do with riding backwards? Only in Ecuador. 🙂

    1. We need to get the buses running again. Too many people depend on them. On the other hand it’s great to see the tram so popular. It’s a great ride and anyone who rides it for free will be happy to 35cents when it’s in regular service.

    2. Yes, and let’s remember that most of the city has no access to TramVia, only the bus. Too bad.

      1. It would be nice to see the tram extension plans, and where they plan to go with it in the future.

        1. Why not figure out how to pay for what has already being built before spending more?

          1. Just curious, if the tram wasn’t there, what would they be using, buses? How much does it cost to maintain one bus, how much does it cost per new bus, what kind of damage to the environment do the diesel fumes from buses cost, how many more drivers would be needed to drive the three buses that would be needed to replace one tram?
            And you still have the lack of fixed infrastructure that the tram brings…
            I’m pretty sure the city planners thought about these factors and chose the best replacement for those dirty inefficient diesel buses..

              1. I haven’t seen any of those on the streets here, how much do they cost a piece to buy, 2-3 million how many would be needed 25, how many extra drivers 3 times as many, how much for the infrastructure to provide the electrical, how much maintenance, how much to train the mechanics for the new technologies, what’s the average life of an electric bus, is it the same as the tram?
                I’ll bet the city planners looked at these alternatives and chose the tram over that alternative. And they get a fixed infrastructure that the tourists will ride and see the city from end to end. All the vendors get the benefit of those tourists jumping on and off, away from el Centro, it’s a great way to spread it around.
                The tram draws people to live here, I moved here because they were spending money for the infrastructure. I rent my condo next to the tram for that convenience. $250 million cheap for that kind of infrastructure. Just go to any growing prosperous city, I know there are non of these in the US anymore, Toronto, Amsterdam, Paris, they are spending hundreds of millions on their infrastructures.

                1. From the article–“As recently as December 2017, most U.S. transit agencies were still skeptical about transitioning to BEBs due to cost and performance issues. However, that consensus is shifting rapidly. In 2015, a typical 40-foot diesel bus cost about $445,000 while a BEB of similar length
                  went for $770,000. Since then, the price difference between the two has
                  decreased somewhat, but remains significant. The lower operating costs
                  of BEBs, however, make them more economical in the long run than
                  internal combustion engine buses. It is about 2.5 times cheaper to power
                  vehicles with electricity rather than diesel, and electricity prices
                  are generally much more stable than gasoline or diesel prices. The U.S.
                  National Renewable Energy Laboratory has found that the fuel economy of
                  BEBs is five times higher than that of diesel buses operated on
                  equivalent routes. In addition, maintenance costs for electric motors is
                  much lower because they have far fewer moving parts than conventional
                  motors and are far more efficient. It is estimated that there are currently about 386,000 electric buses deployed around the world, with 99 percent of them in China, and less than 0.1 percent (only 350 buses) in the United States. However, a recent report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated that by 2025, half of the world’s municipal bus fleet will be electric, and by 2030, 84 percent of new municipal buses sold will be electric. By 2040, 80 percent of the world’s city bus fleet will be electric, along with 33 percent of the world’s cars.”

    3. They are limiting and enforcing the riders on the tram, I believe it’s at 65 people total, I don’t know what the capacity is for the tram. They were also having every rider use sanitizer as they entered and spayed the tram at the end of the line.

    4. Or driving backwards– always backing up-I have a clown who lives on my street –instead of going to the corner and making a u turn–he backs up all the way to the intersection–duh!

  6. I have founnd Cuenca High Light very informative doing crisis. Tell me what is happening
    in the crisis. I wish to thank you for all the information now and in the future. I was pleased it
    was on line and full of information since I could not go out.

    1. Agree 100%. Cuenca High Life is a very good tool for trying to stay informed about life here in Cuenca and Ecuador. Thank you CHL.

    2. Perhaps you could tell us where to get this “Cuenca High Light” that you refer to. Is it as useful as Cuenca High Life that we are now reading?

  7. the lowest rate of death in ecuador is in the over 60 crowd — 16.3% but they can’t go to the gym?? the most in the under 55 group……………..logic is missing as usual.

    1. As a former 3 time overall bodybuilding champion, I lift more than 90% of the clientele in the gym of any age. And I can’t go to the gym because I’m 61?? Maybe even better than 95%.

      1. I don’t think a virus cares how much you can lift. I think the stats show that older people are more likely to die from Covid19.

        1. It is much like other diseases that victimizes a specific group that bears a disproportionate burden. Like Polio and measles for children. If you wish to rely on the numbers (that do not anywhere match the registers of civil status shortfalls) then we can point to the UK where 18.75% of those who get it, die. But that figure includes all ages. If one looks only to the over 65s, then the rate is more than 50%.

      2. If you can handle more than 936 pounds for 3 sets of 3 reps in the leg press machine (at the old Fox Gym because as I know you know, all machines are different) let me know. I’m always looking for a good training partner and It’s a pain in the ass to load that machine with every 20 kilo plate in the gym by myself.

        I’m older than you. Proof upon request.

        It just occurred to me that you may be Sky’s husband. If so, you’ve seen me lift the weights I claim many times. I hope you are well, but I didn’t think you were that old. You look great.

  8. I am happy for Fong now that he can resume his breakfast activities. And of course it will be reassuring to the clientele and staff that there is someone with a first-aid certificate to attend anyone showing symptoms.

    1. Yes, I walked in there with a clean cedula and passport. Plus, they now know you are not an MD.

    2. Isn’t it obvious to you by now that Fog thinks you are someone that you aren’t? He is one clueless person. Don’t you think that Fog is a good moniker for him?

      1. Yes, but that has been true for years now, even when I wasn’t a swami. And I do think “Fog” is an excellent suggestion.

    3. He carries his bat man emergency belt all the time for just such emergencies. The belt carries his Lysol, chloroquine, UV light (complete with extra insertion tips), alcohol 90%, Dixie cups 8oz, digital thermometer, rubber gloves, face masks, a full face visor, an extra full body suit, one pressure vessel with antiseptic spray (just in case the Lysol runs out) and a spork for his steak and eggs.

  9. When do the new car restrictions go into effect. Our car is 0 we need and were planning to drive Thursday

  10. BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — The U.N. World Food Program is warning that
    upward of at least 14 million people could go hungry in Latin America as
    the coronavirus pandemic rages on, shuttering people in their homes,
    drying up work and crippling the economy.

    New projections released
    late Wednesday estimate a startling increase: Whereas 3.4 million
    experienced severe food insecurity in 2019, that number could more than
    quadruple this year in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions.

    “We
    are entering a very complicated stage,” said Miguel Barreto, the WFP’s
    regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “It is what we
    are calling a hunger pandemic.”

  11. Several media sites are posting that ODD numbered plates are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. EVEN numbered plates are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Who knows what’s real? We have even numbered plates, so we are watching it closely.

    1. This afternoon El Universo shows odd on M-W-F, even on Tu-Th-Sat. Sorry, I couldn’t figure out how to post the link.

  12. Without going through all the other comments, thank you to CHL for editing the article and giving the right information.

    It would also be helpful to mark the article as “edited” and point out clearly what was changed. CHL should also edit the part where it says: “For Cuenca, which is under yellow light protocols, the following restrictions NOW apply…[emphasis mine]”

    This doesn’t actually apply until Monday, June 1st. I hope nobody gets a ticket over the next few days because they only read the previous version.

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