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Man who violated curfew could face three years in prison as police intensify enforcement

Authorities want to make an example out of a Cuenca man who was caught violating the nightly curfew for the third time. Victor Manuel G. was arrested outside his historic district home Thursday night and Azuay Governor Xavier Martínez said he will ask prosecutors to seek the maximum penalty of one to three years in prison for the crime.

Empty streets were the norm in Cuenca Friday night as the new 7 p.m. weekend end curfew went into effect.

“We want to send the message that those who violate the health restrictions repeatedly will be arrested and could go to jail,” Martínez said Friday. “The only way we will bring the Covid pandemic under control is to demand full adherence to the rules adopted by the government. No one is exempt.”

Martínez and Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios say that curfew and social distancing patrols have been increased during the past two weeks with the intention of punishing violations. “Previously, we have gone easy on violators but that is over,” Palacios said. “The National Police, Citizen Guard and army have doubled and in some cases tripled neighborhood and market sweeps and this law enforcement will continue until we regain the health of our community.”

In addition to nighttime patrols for curfew enforcement, law enforcement personnel are conducting daytime patrols around city markets and parks to make sure social distancing and mask-wearing rules are adhered to.

Martínez said that warnings will no longer be issued and that violators will be fined $100 for first offenses and $400 for the second. “In the third instance, they will go to prison,” he added.

According to Alfredo Medina, ECU 911 director, 79 people have been fined for breaking health emergency restrictions since June 15, most of them in Narancay, the Feria Libre market and the historic district. Victor Manuel G. is the first case of a three-times violator, he says.