Union groups, indigenous organizations and some local governments are urging President Lenin Moreno to impose a two-week nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19.
In a letter to the president, the Workers Front United, mayors of seven cantons and four other groups demanded a meeting to discuss what they called the nation’s “failed attempt to stop the coronavirus.” The letter suggested that Guayas Province, because of its progress against the virus, be excluded from a return to red light restrictions.
“It is critical that Ecuador return to a strict quarantine at least until the current surge in Covid cases, declines,” the letter reads. “The government should provide free testing to everyone who wants it and monitor the result to determine if it is safe to return to yellow and green light conditions. The country must also provide intensive training to health care workers and purchase the equipment and technology to generate fast test results and to analyze trends of the disease within the population.”
Last week, the United Workers Front called off a nationwide protest due to its concerns that it might spread Covid-19 infections.
Cuenca stays yellow
As expected, the Cuenca Emergency Operations Committee decided Friday night to maintain yellow light restrictions for another week. The decision followed the government’s decision to begin the nighttime curfew at 9 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. and to limit public gatherings to 25 or less. “The tighter restrictions allowed us to stay yellow but without them we would have been forced to return to red,” said Mayor Pedro Palacios. “We are disappointed that the government denied our request to ban liquor sales after dark but we plan to strictly enforce the municipal code against public drinking.”
Cuenca and national organizations representing restaurants and bars lodged a formal complaint with the national COE against the earlier curfew claiming it would mean unemployment for thousands of recently rehired workers.
Church busted for baptism mass
National Police suspended and closed a baptism mass ceremony for dozens of children in Girón. Although attended by a priest, the event was not sanctioned by the church diocese and was in violation of several social distancing rules. In addition to the ceremony itself, police said that many of those who attended the event arrived on an over-crowded bus.
Fines and arrests double in a week
As a new curfew and prohibitions on public gatherings went into effect, the number of fines and arrests in Ecuador’s largest city is soaring. The National Police command says it has assigned additional officers to patrolling areas where young people and vendors gather without observing social distancing rules.
In Cuenca, police and the Citizen Guard targeted the city’s largest markets, concentrating on Feria Libre, 9 de Noviembre and Miraflores, evicting informal vendors who crowded around the markets. When vendors protesters, their goods were confiscated. In addition, more than 100 fines and a dozen arrests resulted — more than double the number from the previous week — in sweeps of parks where young people gather to drink, .
Beach partyers evicted
Mounted police patrolled the beaches of Esmeraldas, Manabí and Santa Elena Provinces Sunday after swimmers and surfers and sunbathers were evicted on Saturday. Police said crowds of more than 25 were drinking on the beach, playing soccer and volleyball, many of them not wearing masks. Ecuador’s beaches remained closed until August 5.