High court rules state of emergency must end midnight Friday, says 30-day declaration not justified

Apr 7, 2021 | 17 comments

Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that President Lenin Moreno’s 30-day Covid-19 state of emergency must end at midnight Friday and that continuing it until the end of the month would amount to an infringement on the constitutional rights of the country’s citizens.

Ecuador’s Constitutional Court

Moreno had declared the emergency April 1 for eight provinces that had seen a recent rise in the number of Covid cases. By executive decree, the state of emergency was to end April 30 in Azuay, El Oro, Esmeraldas, Guayas, Loja, Manabí, Pichincha and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas Provinces.

Among other things, the order imposed a daily 8 p.m. nightly curfew, suspended in-person work for public employees, imposed driving restrictions on national roadways and restricted the sale of alcoholic beverages.

In its ruling, the court said it chose April 9 to end the emergency restrictions so that they would not interfere with Sunday’s presidential runoff election. “The state of emergency should not interrupt the normal functioning of the State, especially the ongoing electoral process,” the court said.

In disallowing the 30-day emergency, the court ruled that the government’s action was not “proportionate” to the risk of the pandemic, saying the suspension of civil rights required “extensive” justification.

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A spokesman for court president Hernán Salgado said that the court was also concerned about the damage and disruption that the emergency would have on businesses and day-to-day personal activities.

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