Ecuador ends Covid limits on gatherings after hitting vaccination goal

By Reuters   March 18, 2022 | 06:24 pm PT
Ecuador ends Covid limits on gatherings after hitting vaccination goal
A healthcare worker receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Guasmo Hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador, January 21, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Santiago Arcos
Ecuador's president on Friday announced an end to coronavirus limits on public and private gatherings, but the South American country will continue to require foreign visitors to show proof of vaccinations or a negative Covid-19 test.

President Guillermo Lasso said the government made the decision to end two years of pandemic containment measures because Ecuador has reached its goal of fully vaccinating 85% of the population above five years old.

Both new infections and Covid-related deaths have steadily fallen in recent weeks, according to government data.

All work places, sporting events, shopping centers, theaters and other entertainment venues can all operate from Friday at full capacity, said Lasso, speaking from the Pacific port city of Guayaquil.

"Today we have the pandemic under control," he said. "Ecuador is ready to take a new leap into the future."

Lasso's government is maintaining for the time being rules requiring face coverings in all public spaces, including outdoors, as well as indoor spaces.

The president added that some of these masking requirements could be lifted in the coming months.

Meanwhile, visitors to the Andean nation must still show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid PCR test no more than 72 hours before traveling.

Last month, the government approved a gradual return to schools for students, teachers and other staff.

According to health ministry data, about 583,000 coronavirus infections have been confirmed over the past two years, along with some 35,000 deaths, which officials describe as the sum of both confirmed and probable fatalities.

Only about 30 percent of Ecuador's adult population have received booster shots and the government only recently began vaccinating three- and four-year-olds.

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