On Monday, September 14, authorities lifted the national state of emergency initially declared in March in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Lockdown restrictions, including a nightly curfew, in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, were also lifted.
Local municipal authorities will now be monitoring outbreaks and will have the power to enforce additional restrictions and regulations, as necessary, locally. The traffic light system is no longer in force, though some municipalities may continue to observe the system as a tool to monitor the crisis. Each municipal government will be responsible in determining measures such as maximum capacities for public transport and institutions, operational capacity of private businesses, the circulation of private vehicles against license plate numbers, health prevention protocols for businesses and industries, amongst others.
A national public health emergency remains in place. Individuals will continue to be required to wear face masks in public areas, and to comply with social distancing measures (maintain a 2m (6ft) distance) and practise frequent hand washing. Schools and universities remain closed across the country. Online classes will be available and remote working will continue to be encouraged.
Public gatherings remain prohibited, though the ban on social gatherings has been lifted and will be determined by local municipalities. Individuals are permitted to move freely within the country, limitations on public transportation will be applied and movement for individual vehicles will continue to be limited according to the last number of vehicle license plates. Public shows, bars, and nightclubs remain closed. The use of beaches will be permitted, though they will be regulated by local authorities likely limiting capacity numbers.
In Quito, due to a high COVID-19 infection rate, many restrictions will remain in place. All public gatherings remain suspended. Bars, nightclubs, and gyms will also stay closed until further notice and all sports activities which cannot observe social distancing requirements will continue to be suspended. Retail stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and banks can operate at a 50 percent capacity; cinemas and theatres at 30 percent capacity; and public transport, including terminals and tourist transport, at a maximum 50 percent capacity.
International and domestic commercial flights resumed limited operations on June 1. All arriving passengers must present a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test taken up to ten days prior to departure, and if unable to do so passengers will be required to take a test at the airport. All passengers are required to complete a declaration form providing their itinerary and contact details and will be subject to a mandatory 10-day self-isolation period. Land and sea borders remain closed, except for the border posts of Rumichara with Colombia and Huaquillas with Peru, which are open only to residents.
As of Tuesday, September 15, health officials have confirmed 118,911 cases of COVID-19, with 10,922 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
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