President Lenín Moreno declared a 30-day state of emergency Friday night for Azuay, Guayas, El Oro, Esmeraldas, Manabí, Pichincha, Loja and Santo Domingo Provinces due to an increase in Covid-19 cases. The declaration includes an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, elimination of face-to-face public services, driving restrictions, restrictions on liquor sales and the closure of some businesses.
The order, which takes effect Friday, April 2 will be reviewed by the Constitutional Court which disallowed earlier emergency declarations on grounds that they violated the civil rights of citizens.
The president’s order comes at the request of the national COE which says that hospitalizations and deaths have increased sharply in the eight provinces since the beginning of the year. “We must act immediately to stop this trend, which includes an increase of 25 percent to 40 percent in Covid deaths,” said Juan Zapata, COE president. “It is unfortunate that we have to return to these conditions since it is largely the result of the public’s disregard of health precautions.”
The declaration had also been requested by several mayors and prefects who warned that the health systems in several cities were being overwhelmed by new Covid cases. “We welcome the provisions of the state of emergency established by the President and the National COE,” Quito Mayor Jorge Yunda wrote on his Twitter account. “We must put everyone’s life and health above all else and our city is mobilized to enforce the order.”
Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios said he would address the new restrictions in a Friday morning news conference.
Under the state of emergency, the following rules and restrictions apply:
- A nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
- Prohibition of alcohol sales after 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday
- Total prohibition of alcohol sales Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- Suspension of face-to-face services in public offices
- Prohibition of all mass gatherings
- Restrictions on driving based on odd-even license plate numbers, details to be announced
In addition, activities in parks, cinemas, theaters, gyms and physical training centers will be suspended for 30 days.
In his declaration, Moreno said that restrictions in the eight provinces will not affect the April 11 presidential runoff election.
The declaration also specifies that essential professions and services are exempt from the restrictions, including health workers and personnel in security, road emergency, public utilities, food service, export services and other activities considered vital.
“The limitation of the exercise of freedom of movement will be carried out for the specific purpose of maintaining social distancing to reduce the accelerated spread of the Covid-19 virus,” the declaration says.