Responding to recommendations by medical groups that events and travel for the Cuenca independence holiday and Day of the Dead by cancelled, the government said the holidays cannot be stopped. “We cannot nullify holidays since it would violate Ecuador’s Law of Holidays,” said Juan Zapata, director of the ECU-911 system. “The state of emergency is no longer in effect so all we can do is urge local governments to use their authority to impose biosecurity rules as they see fit to protect the population.”
According to medical organizations around the country, the coming holidays pose a special threat during Covid-19 pandemic since they are part of a four-day weekend, the country’s longest holiday of the year. On Monday and Tuesday, doctor groups in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Quito urged that all public events be cancelled and travel between provinces be banned to slow the spread of the virus.
Municipal governments are responding to the holidays differently, some closing bars and imposing alcohol “dry laws” to reduce drinking and closing cemeteries and public areas. Others will keep public areas open and allow events under social distancing rules.
In Cuenca, independence holiday events and activities will be allowed with social distancing measures and cemeteries will be allowed to open with controls on the number of people allowed in. The city government announced its plans Tuesday, saying the burden for protecting personal and public health will be on individuals.
The story in Guayaquil is different, where most parks and public areas will be closed and events and the purchase of alcohol will be banned. Officials are asking citizens to enjoy the holidays at home.
Coastal communities are resisting calls to close beaches during the holiday, saying they are crucial to reactiving the economy. Some municipalities, including Manta, say they will clear beaches early during the weekend.
In Tuesday press conferences, the country’s hotel and restaurant associations complained about the recommendations to cancel holiday events and restrict travel. “The hospitality industry has suffered more than any other during the pandemic and we reject suggestions that the holidays be cancelled,” a spokesman for restaurant owners said. “People look forward all year to this holiday and we are prepared to provide services while observing rules to contain the pandemia. We ask that people not surrender to unfounded hysteria.”