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Mayor, Cuenca city councilmen angered by national decision to ease Covid-19 restrictions

Mayor Pedro Palacio and three city councilmen are questioning the national government’s decision to ease health emergency restrictions. For cities like Cuenca, which are under yellow light rules, the new guidelines push back the nightly curfew, allow theaters to reopen and increase the size of public gatherings.

Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios

“These decisions should be made on a local level based on local conditions,” Palacios said. “The local Emergency Operations Committee (COE) meets once a week and considers a variety of information before we make a decision for the next week and it was my understanding that the purpose of this process was to allow individual communities to decide what is best for them. It doesn’t make sense to me that decisions are being made in Quito and applied to the entire country without consideration of local circumstances.”

Palacios said he is worried about a rise in new Covid-19 cases in the city and the fact that the intensive care units at Cuenca’s two public hospitals are near full capacity. He pointed out that the two hospitals serve patients from three provinces in addition to Cuenca. “Every week, we have to consider virus cases in El Oro, Cañar and Morona Santiago [provinces] to assess our health care capabilities.”

Palacios dismissed a Wednesday claim by Interior Minister Paula Maria Romo that, nationally, the pandemic was being successfully managed and that the country has the hospital capacity to handle critical cases. “I’m not sure this is true but it’s cetainly not the case in Cuenca and Quito,” he said.

Municipal councilmen Omar Ledesma, Diego Morales and Andrés Ugalde sent an open letter to the National COE on Tuesday complaining that Cuenca was not consulted before the relaxed rules were announced. “We were already in a precarious situation with the coronavirus and to have it mandated that our curfew is extended and that larger groups are allowed to gather puts new strain on the community,” Morales said in a radio interview. “We also don’t understand the wisdom of opening theaters and cinemas, even at reduced capacity. If anything, it is time to be tightening restrictions, not reducing them.”

Azuay Province Prefect Yaku Pérez joined Palacios and the councilmen in criticizing relaxed restrictions. “I hope I am wrong, but I believe the government’s move will lead to additional loss of life.”

Although he didn’t criticize the new rules, Ministry of Health regional health director Julio Molina admitted they would make it more difficult to police violators. “We already have too many young people on the streets and in the parks playing football and volleyball and hanging out without masks and this must be controlled to stop the spread of the virus.”

5 thoughts on “Mayor, Cuenca city councilmen angered by national decision to ease Covid-19 restrictions

  1. Does anyone remember what the number of bus drivers is that tested positive for the virus? Doesn’t sound safe to me but then when has anyone ever accused the busses of being safe?

    1. I thought vehicular traffic was atrocious today, making it difficult to cross the street for pedestrians at the usual hot spots like the redondel at Remigio Crespo. I hope they extend the tranvía right up Solano.

  2. This lockdown is something we have never done before. The deaths due to the lockdown surpass anything we have ever seen from a disease. Virus deaths have been low throughout, and now are almost zero. The lockdown should never have happened, and should never happen again. We have petty mindless dictators, who do not want to give up the illicit power they have assumed. We need to go back to constitutional government. The constitution is there for a reason, and one of the reasons is to protect us from mindless petty dictators.

    1. Congratulations you are one of the few with common sense and critical thinking!!

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