Government relaxes public transit rules, allows more reopenings; Guayaquil mayor angry about reopening plans; Country receives tourism ‘seal’

Aug 21, 2020 | 60 comments

The national Emergency Operations Committee on Thursday voted to allow more ridership on buses and trains and to reopen movie theaters and some sports training facilities. The change increases the maximum capacity from 50 percent to 75 percent for interprovincial, intra-provincial, school, tourism and urban transportation systems. The changes apply to cantons under yellow light health protocols, which comprise more than 80 percent of the cantons in the country.

The World Travel and Tourism Council is praising Ecuador for allowing the reopening of the country’s tourism businesses and attractions, including the Galapagos Islands.

The decision to allow the reopening of sports academies, athletic clubs and training centers was approved at the suggestion of the Sports Secretariat, which claimed that social, phyiscal and psychological harm has resulted from five months of health emergency lock-down. “We are very pleased with the change and have assured the COE that we will enforce strict biosecurity measures at all facilities covered by the action.” The reopening does not apply to most private gyms, which remain closed.

Movie theaters and auditoriums that screen movies will be allowed to open at 30 percent capacity if they have number seating. The new rule allows movie venues to operate until 11 p.m., a waiver of the 9 p.m. and 7 p.m. curfews. Theaters will be allowed to use only one entrance and exit, except in cases of emergency.

Guayaquil mayor, government at odds over reopening
Guayaquil Mayor Cynthia Viteri is objecting to a government pilot project to reopen a school in the city. Last month, she objected to the national Emergency Operations Committee decision to reopen some businesses and public beaches in Guayas Province. On Thursday, Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos and Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo visited the Colegio Humboldt Alemania, operated by the national government, to encourage a “staggered” reopening with social distancing controls. The ministers say schools should develop plans for in-class reopenings, claiming that students suffer without face-to-face contact with teachers and other students.

In a press conference, Viteri objected, claiming the government is trying to countermand her order that all city schools remain closed until 2021. She also said that the federal government is not sharing data about the Covid-19 pandemic with the Guayaquil COE.

World tourism group gives Ecuador its ‘seal of approval’
Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism has received “Safe Travels” status from the World Travel and Tourism Council. The designation recognizes the country’s efforts to reopen tourism businesses and attractions under biosecurity controls to protect tourists against Covid-19. In particular, the council praised Ecuador’s recent decision to allow entry into the country without requiring quarantine for travelers who show a negative Covid test. It also acknowleged the decision to reopen the Galapagos Islands to tourists.

Ecuador is the only country in the Andean region of South America to allow foreign travelers to enter and the only one allowing international flights. It is one of only 10 countries in Latin America to receive the “Safe Travel” seal of approval from the tourism council.

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