Travel in Ecuador - Corona Update

Posted by Marianne Salmans (status 15-06-2020)

“Are you considering a holiday to Ecuador? We are here and ready to give you advice.”

With the borders of Europe largely opening up to tourism, the big question for many of our travellers is: when can we return to Latin America? In this blog we will keep you informed about the current situation in Ecuador.

Developments up to now

Developments regarding the coronavirus in Ecuador have somewhat followed equal pace with the Netherlands. On February 29, the first patient was reported in Guayaquil (in the Netherlands this was on February 27) and on March 14, Ecuador announced that it was closing its borders and the country went into a strict lockdown three days later. (in the Netherlands everyone was called to stay at home on March 11).

To great sadness though, the virus had previously entered the country unnoticed and the major port and trading city of Guayaquil was deeply affected. Two thirds of the nationally registered patients live in Guayaquil. Part of the explanation for why this city registered so many cases lies in the fact that the schools in Guayaquil, and in all Ecuadorian coastal provinces, had their holidays during the months of February and March. As a result, the more affluent communities had a lot of holiday visitors to and from Spain and Italy (the corona epicentres at that time), where hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorian migrants live since the late 1990s. Infected vacationers and returning students seem to have caused a rapid spread of the virus in and around Guayaquil even before the lockdown took effect.

Although the private health system in Ecuador is at a good level and everyone in the country has access to medical care, this early outbreak in Guayaquil took the country completely by surprise and completely overloaded the system in early April. With the intervention of the government and support from abroad, the capacity of the hospitals has been raised to a higher level and there is now space again to receive patients.

During the lockdown it was not possible to travel between provinces, residents were only allowed to go outside from 07:00 to 14:00 and travel half a day a week by car for essential activities only. This has allowed to control the further spread of the virus, and outside the province of Guayas (of which Guayaquil is the capital) relatively few infections have been reported.

The current situation

Ecuador has introduced a traffic light system and it is indicated per province to what extent the measures are in force or are being relaxed. Due to the early outbreak in Guayaquil and the very stringent measures that followed, Ecuador has managed to successfully flatten the curve of infections at this moment and is slowly reopening with great precaution. National tourism will start slowly in June, the airports will open to international traffic and international tourists will be welcome again from 1 July.

Exploring the country now

Ecuador’s airports opened on June 1 for both domestic and international flights at 30 percent of its usual capacity. Also KLM resumed its flights in the month of June, at a schedule of three times per week. Starting August 3 they are expected to adopt their traditionally daily schedule. Naturally, these dates are subject to change. For current information, please refer to the KLM flight status, route Amsterdam-Quito.

Ecuador will take strict measures when reopening to prevent the virus from spreading as much as possible. Important rules therefore apply before and upon arrival (status 15-06-2020):

  • Passengers entering the country are required to sign a written declaration (special immigration form) agreeing to comply with the provisions set by the authorities and with mandatory preventive quarantine.
  • Passengers must be able to present a negative PCR test result, which is received no more than 7 days before the trip. If a PCR test cannot be obtained in the country of origin, the passenger agrees to a test to detect SARS-CoV-2 upon arrival in Ecuador.
  • Before disembarking, passengers must complete and sign the traveller health form, which will be handed to the Ministry of Health on arrival to perform the respective medical check-up.
  • Immediately upon arrival in Ecuador, the traveller must go into self-quarantine for fourteen days, in accordance with guidelines established by local health authorities. The number of days is counted from entry into the country (13 nights, 14 days). Numerous hotels have been designated as official locations where quarantine is permitted under these rules.

Detailed official information (in Spanish) can be found here.

The procedures that apply upon arrival at the airport can be found this video of Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito.

Exploring the country later

At the moment, the Ministry of Tourism is working in collaboration with local tour operators, hotels, etc. on a mandatory protocol to enable safe travel in Ecuador. You can think of additional sanitary measures, maintaining an appropriate distance (in Ecuador 2 meters), using face masks and gloves, disinfecting spaces, etc.

The beautiful country has the advantage that it is originally a destination for nature lovers with small-scale lodges and hotels in the great outdoors. in 2018, only 2.4 million travellers visited this country, which is half the size of France (for comparison, in the same year the Netherlands received around 19 million tourists and France 90 million). Away from the human bustle, wandering by yourself through the vast National Parks, you will have true peace and space to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

Are you considering a holiday to Ecuador? We are here and ready to give you advice. Our friendly partners in Ecuador, guides, drivers and receptionists are eager to receive you with open arms and a big smile. Even if this will be at an appropriate distance.

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