Tranvía work is reactivated; 50 more cantons to relax Covid restrictions; Gov’t considers restart of air travel; Students continue budget protest

May 13, 2020 | 13 comments

Tram units sit idle at the Av. Mexico train yard but will resume operations soons.

Work on Cuenca’s tram system resumed on Tuesday following approval by the cantonal Emergency Operations Committee (COE). According to Mayor Pedro Palacios, the project remains on schedule to begin commercial operations in the second half of the year.

“When we suspended operations because of the health emergency we were ahead of schedule so we believe we can still meet our original commercial operations schedule,” the mayor said. “Everyone on the project is excited to get back to work.”

Tram manager Carolina Ormaza said workers will observe Covid-19 safety requirements, including submitting to testing, that were approved by the COE. “We are beginning a four-week period of checking all mechanical and electronic systems,” she said. She added that the trains would not operate immediately.

In addition to the previously scheduled work, Ormaza said her office is developing biosecurity procedures related to the Coronavirus outbreak. “There will be a protocol for those riding the tram, possibly including social distancing requirements,” she said. “This will not be permanent but will need to be observed until a vaccine against the virus is available.”

Ormaza says that work on the tram will begin at 5 a.m. daily and continue until 2 p.m.

Virus update

Flights could resume June 1
The national Emergency Operations Committee and the Ministries of Transportation and Public Works have set a tentative date of June 1 for the resumption of national and international air travel in Ecuador. All commercial flights have been suspended since March 11 although repatriation charter flights have continuned to operate from airports in Guayaquil and Quito. Interior Minister María Paula Romo said that the June 1 restart date depends on the status Covid-19 health emergency.

University of Cuenca students protest at Parque Calderon on Tuesday.

More cantons to relax restrictions
President Lenín Moreno said Tuesday that at least 50 of the country’s 211 cantons will move from red light to yellow light health emergency status beginning next week. Currently, only three cantons have relaxed restrictions. “We are beginning to emerge from Covid-19 crisis and are putting Ecuador back to work and back to a level of normalicy,” he said. Under yellow light status, the daily curfew begins at 6 p.m. instead of 2, drivers are allowed two days of driving privileges instead of one, and more businesses are allowed to open.

University students continue protests
University of Cuenca continue their daily protests at the government building on Parque Calderon, objecting to deep budget cuts announced two weeks ago by the Ministry of Finance. Police say the protest, one of several around the around the country, have been peaceful.

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