Following the government’s decision Thursday morning denying Cuenca’s request to extend the nightly curfew and restrict alcohol sales and the size of public gatherings, Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios and Azuay Province Governor Xavier Martinez said the city may return to red light health emergency status.
Martinez said the Cuenca Emergency Operations Committee (COE) should carefully consider the implications of a return to red. “The decision will mean offices and businesses will shut down again, that restaurants and hotels will close,” he said. “The city will return to April conditions and forfeit the progress it has made since moving to yellow light. Such a move will have major economic consequences.”
He suggested that tougher enforcement of laws against public drinking and health emergency rules, such social distancing and mask-wearing, is an option the local COE should consider.
Martinez defended the government’s decision not to make exceptions to Cuenca’s yellow light status. “Under the state of emergency, the government has established three categories of restrictions and cities can decide which one is best from them, red, yellow or green. In Cuenca’s case, if it feels the yellow light restrictions do not address local concerns, such as over-capacity at the hospitals, they can move back to red. The traffic light system is not designed to change to fit individual needs of the cities.”
Palacios said he was disappointed with the national COE’s decision and said he planned to travel to Quito next week to meet with federal officials. “I still hope we can make modifications without reimposing a strict quarantine,” he said.
The Cuenca COE will decide tomorrow whether to maintain yellow light status or move to red although Palacios said his meeting next week could determine future moves.