State of emergency ends Thursday but government urges local authorities to ‘reopen cautiously’

May 18, 2021 | 9 comments

Ecuador’s 28-day state of emergency ends Thursday at midnight and will not be extended. “We have met our objectives during the last month by lowering the number of new Covid infections and reducing the pressure on the hospitals and are very pleased with the results,” Juan Zapata, president of the National Emergency Operations Committee (COE), said on Monday.

COE President Juan Zapata.

In addition to the improvement in case numbers and hospitalizations, Zapata said that the number of restriction violations have dropped each of the four weeks of the emergency period. “The clandestine gatherings and business violations reached their lowest point on the weekend just past and there were fewer arrests of motorists on the streets without authorization,” he said. “Our message has been delivered that we face a very serious health crisis and that we must maintain our guard to overcome it.”

Zapata said that new hospital admission of patients diagnosed with Covid-19 has dropped 67 percent since April 23, when the state of emergency began but said the occupancy of intensive care beds remains high, explaining that several indicators, such as critical cases and deaths, will decline slowly.

Nationwide, Zapata added, new cases of Covid-19 have dropped 45 percent since April 23.

The national COE has sent guidelines to municipal and provincial governments suggesting a “cautious reopening.” The suggestions include maintaining restrictions on the reopening of bars and restaurants if necessary, limiting the hours of alcohol sales and controlling the size of public gatherings. “Each community must make its decision based on local conditions,” says Ricardo Vizueta, Director of Surveillance for the Ministry of Health. “Without the emergency declaration, we cannot restrict the freedom of movement and other constitutional rights, but local authorities can apply local laws and ordinances to reduce excessive contact that could spread the Covid virus.”

In Cuenca, the cantonal COE said that most activities can return to pre-emergency levels on Friday but that it will issue new guidelines later in the week.

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