State of health emergency extended 60 days; City parks reopen with new rules; Int’l air service will be ‘tentative’; Most bus stations still closed
President Lenín Moreno has extended Ecuador’s health emergency for 60 days, until August 14. He said the extension had been planned and is needed to maintain the country’s traffic light system that governs the reopening of cantons. “Ecuador continues to face a public health calamity with the coronavirus which, in turn, has resulted in an economic calamity,” the president said. “We are making progress to overcome both crises but this emergency declaration is necessary to protect the public health and manage the reopening process.”
In a statement, Moreno praised the work of public health professionals in controlling the spread of Covid-19. “We have recorded 47,322 cases of the virus but 42,687 have recovered, so we are pleased with our efforts,” he said. “We have started the process of recovery and we expect this to continue to a successful conclusion.”
City parks reopen with new rules
Closed for three months, Cuenca’s public parks begin to reopen this week under guidelines approved by the cantonal Emergency Operations Committee. The municipal maintenance company, EMAC, said the openings would be “progressive over two to three weeks” as green areas and facilities are restored by ground crews. The parks that will reopen are El Paraíso, Parque de la Madre, Mega Parque Tarqui Guzho, Mega Parque de la Luz, Wanacauri, Mega Parque Ictocruz and Parque Miraflores.
The rules for park use include a maximum capacity of 30 percent with a recommended personal usage time of 30 minutes, mandatory use of face masks and observance of social distancing. Activities allowed are walking, jogging, cycling and individual exercise activities. Group activities and team sports are prohibited. Among other restrictions are a prohibition of use by pregnant women, those with symptoms of respiratory distress, chronic illnesses and those over 70.
EMAC says members of the Cuenca Citizen Guard will patrol parks to enforce the rules.
International flight schedules remain ‘tentative’ and ‘intermittant’
Although international flights into and out of Ecuador resumed last week, airport authorities caution travelers that schedules are in a state of flux. In a statement, the management of Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport said that their agreement with international air carriers allows for “tentative” schedules and “intermittent service.”
It continued: “Passengers should be prepared for changes in schedules and entry rules in the countries they are traveling to. In the first weeks of operations, airlines have cancelled and rescheduled a number of flights and they tell us that they do not expect to return to pre-health emergency schedules until the beginning of 2021.”
The statement said that it is the responsibility of travelers to determine health requirements at their destination and whether they might be required to undergo Covid-19 testing or quarantine. “We were just been notified that the European Union is updating its entry standards for non-EU countries and new requirement could be applied to incoming travelers on a country-by-country basis. The U.S. and Canada have notified us that they may adopt similar rules.”
Terminal terrestres operate in only three cantons
Despite clearance by the national Emergency Operations Committee (COE) to resume interprovincial bus service, bus stations in only three of the country’s 221 cantons were open on Monday. Because local authorities have not approved a reopening in other cantons, buses from Ambato, Manta and Babahoyo offered only limited service. In Cuenca, the local COE said interprovinicial bus service would begin within a “matter of days” after safety protocols have been approved and all bus drivers have tested negative for Covid-19. When service begins, bus occupancy will be restricted to 50 percent.