Ecuador’s lockdown on personal movement and business activity will end Monday, May 4 in what Interior Minister María Paula Romo describes as a “half-way retrun to normalcy.”
The new phase will emphasize social distancing instead of stay-at-home confinement. “We will move from isolation to distancing and will depend on the cooperation of all Ecuadorians,” she said. “The last five weeks have been difficult but it is clear that we cannot remain locked up at home forever. We have made progress in the battle against Covid-19 and we expect that progress to continue under the new regime.”
Romo said the new stage will come with its own rules, the details of which will be worked out and announced in the coming week. “This is not a total return to life as it was before the arrival of the Covid-19. It will not be the way it was in January or February. For example, we will need to adjust to staggered office and shopping hours and restaurants may continue to be restricted to take-out service only.”
Romo said that President Lenin Moreno will provide more information about the coming changes in a Friday night address to the nation.
The annoucement caught many officials by surprise and some expressed concern that the relaxation of restrictions may be coming too soon. “The number of cases is still growing in Cuenca and Azuay Province and we are at least a week away from reaching a peak,” said Azuay Governor Xavier Martínez, who had not been notified in advance of Romo’s announcement. “There is certainly a risk to the change.”