Interior Minister Minister María Paula Romo announced Friday that the face-to-face workday ban is being extended as the government prepares to introduce its “traffic light” system for health emergency restrictions. The face-to-face ban was due to expire April 11.
Romo said that the gradual lifting of Ecuador’s social isolation and mobility restrictions will be signaled by the country’s new “traffic light” system. “Beginning Monday, April 13, restrictions and rules will governed by this procedure, with a red light meaning that measures remain in force, orange that they are under consideration for change, and green meaning they are suspended or relaxed based on local conditions,” she said. “We will begin with all signals red on Monday.”
The new system will be based on week-to-week conditions in local communities. “In other words, when you see red it means that that restriction, such as the allowance for personal vehicle use, will be in effect until the following Monday when it may or not change,” Romo said. “This system can operate on a municipality or provincial level, depending on the community conditions.” She said she would provide more details about the new system next week.
She added that in coming days and weeks, some areas may see increased restrictions. “We are currently evaluating the situations in Quito and Cuenca where we are seeing evidence of community spread of Covid-19 and we may strengthen the rules to combat this. We will also announce new restrictions for Guayas Province and Guayaquil, where we are experiencing the worst outbreak.”
No private cars on the weekend
Based on rules announced Monday, all use of private vehicles is prohibited on Saturday and Sunday unless drivers have a safe-conduct permit. Under the new rules, private cars and trucks are allowed on the streets for only one day a week based on the last license plate digit. The Emergency Operations Committee says the ban does not affect the operating hours of supermarkets and other stores, shops and markets providing essential services. In Cuenca, private taxis are allowed to operate under safe-conduct rules.
Fine for failure to wear masks
The Emergency Operations Committee has established a fine of $100 for those who willfully fail to wear a face mask. The committee said that police will first issue a warning but will fine the subject for subsequent violations.
IESS president, former Cuenca mayor, resigns
President of Ecuador’s Social Security System (IESS), Paúl Granda, has resigned following the discovery of possible fraud in the bulk purchase of face masks through the IESS procurement office. The masks were purchased for $12 each while they had previously cost $4. Although Granda, a former Cuenca mayor, was the one who revealed the questionable purchase and ordered an investigation, he was under pressure from the National Assembly to resign regarding earlier inventory problems in the IESS health system.
Covid-19 case count rises with increased testing
Ecuador reported 4,965 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus on Thursday with a death toll of 272. Interior Minister María Paula Romo said the increase of 515 from Wednesday reflects increased testing as well as the policy of including probable but untested cases. She said that the ministry of health continues to see a “flattening of the curve” of virus spread. The ministry reports that nationwide, 335 virus patients are hospitalized, 196 in stable condition, 139 in critical condition. It says that more than 80 percent of active cases are recovering at home.
In Azuay Province, 166 Covid-19 cases are reported, with 100 of those in Cuenca.