‘Limited’ state of emergency considered by officials; TV tax is delayed; Niño Viajero will ride in style
The National Emergency Committee (COE) says it will consider imposing a “limited” state of emergency if Covid-19 infections trend higher. “We are watching the case count closely and will take the necessary measures to control the spread of the virus if necessary,” Juan Zapata, director of the ECU-911, said Wednesday. “We are watching with great concern the spikes in cases and deaths in the U.S. and Europe.”
He said the new restrictions would be applied locally and not on a nationwide basis.
He said the COE cannot impose a lockdown similar to the one mandated from March through August but said the committee is exploring its legal options to close businesses that attract large crowds and to restrict private and public gatherings. “We cannot restrict the right of free movement that existed under the presidential emergency decree but there are other restrictions that we can apply, Zapata said. In addition to temporary closures of restaurants and bars, he added that prohibition of liquor sales, restrictions on weddings, church service capacities and closure of public areas are being considered.
Zapata said the COE is particularly concerned about an increase of Covid cases in Quito and the stress it puts on health care facilities and morgues.
New tax on large-screen televisions is delayed
Following criticism from importers and retailers, Ecuador’s Foreign Trade Committee (Comex) has delayed a tax on large-screen televisions until December 31. The new tax of $158 plus five percent on 50- to 75-inch televisions and $158 plus 20 percent on televisions over 75 inches was set to go into effect next week.
Comex said the new tax will now be applied on December 31 but said a further reconsideration is possible. A spokesman for the committee said the change was made to assist Christmas sales.
The Ecuador Association of Home Appliances of Ecuador warned that the tax would increase the cost of large screen televisions to consumers by at least 17 percent. The association called the postponement of the tax a “temporary success” but it says it will continue to urge Comex to drop the tax plan altogether.
Even without a parade, the Niño Viajero will visit Cuenca’s faithful
Althogth this year’s Christmas Eve Pase del Niño has been cancelled due to the Covid pandemic, the Niño Viajero will still ride in style through the streets of Cuenca as well as in the skies above.
Cuenca Archbishop Marcos Pérez Caicedo said Thursday that the car used by Pope Francis in his 2015 visit to Ecuador will transport the Niño through all the paroquias of the city. In addition, the church has arranged for a helicopter overflight with the Army.
“Despite the cancellation of the parade, all Cuencanos will have have the opportunity to see the Niño and to be in his holy presence,” Caicedo said.