“We are emerging from the pandemic and Ecuadorians are ready to celebrate,” is how Juan Zapata, president of the National Emergency Operations Committee describes the mood of the country leading up to the five-day Cuenca independence and Day of the Dead holiday weekend. “We are still urging people to take care in observing precautions against the Covid-19 virus but we recognize that people want to have fun.”
Zapata added that the decision by President Guillermo Lasso, two weeks ago, to extend the holiday weekend an extra day is recognition of the country’s progress out of the pandemic. “It will not only encourage people to have a good time but will help reactivate the businesses that that suffered during the last year and a half.”
According to the World Health Organization, Ecuador ranks second in the Western Hemisphere in fewest new cases of Covid-19 and first in fewest deaths from the virus.
According to the Transportation Ministry, more than a million Ecuadorians will travel over the long holiday weekend. The Ministry said Wednesday that it expected the current political protests to be over by Friday, when the holiday begins. “We anticipate the country’s highways being open and are assigning additional transit police to special duty to make sure traffic moves smoothly,” it said.
Tourism officials in Cuenca said they expected as many as 100,000 visitors to the city during the holidays. “After suspending activities last year because of the pandemic, we are thrilled to reestablish Cuenca’s festivals and fairs,” said tourism spokeswoman Maria Altos. “We have been in close contact with the national and local emergency operations committees and will be careful to adhere to all biosecurity measures to ensure public safety and will require proof of vaccination at some events. We understand that the pandemic is not over and we want to keep everyone safe.”
On Tuesday, the national COE agreed to increase capacity at the country’s airports to 75 percent in reception and waiting areas and 100 percent in boarding and arrival areas. Last month, it increased capacity to 100 percent on long-distance buses and in bus terminal waiting rooms.
Zapata said that local governments will be responsible for monitoring capacity at cemeteries during Day of the Dead activities and special events in Cuenca and other cities. “The cantonal COEs will make sure capacity limits and health protocols, such as mask-wearing are observed,” he said.
Cuenca Indepdence holiday events
For the full agenda of local events, click here.