Interior Minister María Paula Romo announced Friday that the use of private vehicles will be reduced to once a week beginning Monday. It is the third reduction in two weeks.
“We have made the decision to tighten driving restrictions in the interest of public health,” Romo said in an interview on the Ecuavisa television network. “We are focusing on modifying the behavior of our residents in the fight to control the spread of Covid-19. Our message is, stay at home and, when you are out on essential business, maintain physical distance from others.”
Under the new rules, private vehicles with license plate numbers ending in 1 or 2 are allowed on the streets on Monday; ending in 3 or 4, on Tuesday; ending in 5 or 6, on Wednesday; ending in 7 or 8, on Thursday; and ending in 9 or 0, on Friday. No private cars without safe passage permits will be allowed on the streets on Saturday or Sunday.
Romo also said that police will add patrols to make sure that those driving with safe conduct permits, such as food delivery services, are on approved business. “In many cases, we have found those with special permits are driving for personal reasons and we will punish those engaged in this activity.”
Meanwhile on Friday, Ecuador Foreign Minister José Valencia lashed out at what he called “fake and inflamatory news” about the situation in Guayaquil, particularly articles highlighting decomposing bodies in the streets. “Yes, we are in a crisis in that city and there is a great deal of human tragedy just as there is in many cities in the world,” he said. “Guayaquil is the epicenter of Ecuador’s coronavirus outbreak and we are struggling to keep up with needs of the residents, including the removal of bodies from residences.”
Referring to international media coverage, he said a “handful of bodies on the sidewalks has been portrayed as hundreds.” In particular, he was upset by an article in Friday’s Washington Post which he said contained inaccuracies and exaggerations.
“The pandemic is a tragedy being played out globally, not just in Guayaquil, and we reject media sensationalism that distorts the truth,” Valencia said. He added he and his staff are distributing information to foreign embassies to “set the record straight.”
New Covid-19 cases drop
For the first time in four days, the government reported a drop in new Covid-19 cases on Friday. The latest count of confirmed cases stands at 3,368 and 145 deaths. The number of new cases was up 205 from Thursday’s count but down from the 450 cases reported a day earlier. Of the total cases, 2,388 are in Guayas Province. The Azuay Province total held steady at 99.