The government is warning protesters in Cuenca, Guayaquil and Quito that they risk arrest for violating social distancing protocols. “We respect their right to assembly but we are in a public health emergency and if the rules are not followed we may ask the police to intervene,” said Interior Minister María Paula Romo Tuesday afternoon.
The protests over government budget cuts and changes to labor laws, have drawn crowds of as many as 3,000 in Guayaquil and Quito and several hundred in Cuenca. Protesters include labor unions, university students and medical workers who say they have not been paid. So far, the protests have been mostly peaceful although police pushed back crowds Tuesday in Quito and used tear gas in Cuenca following the arrest of man accused of selling drugs.
“We are extremely concerned about the disregard for social distancing standards and the fact that some protesters are not wearing masks,” Romo said. Labor and student organizations say the protests will continue on Wednesday.