Travel in Ecuador - Corona Update

Posted by Marianne Salmans (status March/April 2021)

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

On 13 October, EU Member States adopted a Council Recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to find a common ground to travel measures within the EU, to the EU and travel outside the EU. With this comes the big question for many of our travellers: 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 in the course of last year. 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 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 allowed to control the further spread of the virus.

At this moment, overall the situation is relatively under control and level of cases are currently lower than in Europe. Ecuador has launched the COVID-19 vaccination program and are currently in phase 1 where high-risk groups, such as healthcare workers, people over 65 years of age and residents of the Galápagos Islands have priority. Mass vaccination should follow from April 2021 onwards. Current level of vaccination can be found here.

Exploring the country now

Important: since January 23, guests arriving from South America will no longer be allowed entry into the Netherlands. This restriction applies until the Dutch governement can introduce a mandatory quarantine for travelers upon arrival in the Netherlands. Below you will find the local rules for Ecuador.

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 last year, currently on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and efforts are being made to scale up to the traditional schedule of daily flights. Naturally, these dates are subject to change. For current information, please refer to the KLM flight status, route Amsterdam-Quito.

Ecuador has taken strict measures for international inbound travelers to prevent the virus from spreading as much as possible. Important rules therefore apply before and upon arrival. Starting 22 March 2021, the regulations are as follows:

  • All arrivals from abroad must provide either proof of a negative test or vaccination certificate.
  • The COVID-19 PCR test must be taken no more than 3 days prior to arrival in Ecuador; this proof must be presented before boarding the aircraft at the country of origin. As long as visitors don’t present symptoms of COVID-19, they do not need to fulfill a mandatory preventive quarantine period.
  • Instead of the negative COVID-19 PCR test, guests may also present a COVID-19 complete vaccination certificate. In case of a valid certificate, the PCR test is no longer necessary for entry into Ecuador.
  • Travelers who present symptoms of COVID upon arrival in Ecuador are required to perform a PCR test at their own expense and proceed to quarantine even if they present a negative PCR test or vaccination certificate at the airport of entry.
  • Upon arrival in Ecuador, passengers may be randomly tested with an antigen test by Ministry of Health workers (no cost). If tested positive, the traveler will need to go into quarantine as mentioned below.
  • All travelers fill out a Health Status Declaration form before boarding the aircraft at the country of origin and hand it in upon arrival to Ministry of Health workers, who will also check symptoms. The form can be found here.
  • Inbound travelers who test positive will be required to complete 10 days of mandatory preventive quarantine at their accommodation and be asymptomatic before leaving their accommodation. The number of days is counted from entry into the country (9 nights, 10 days). Numerous hotels have been designated as official locations where quarantine is permitted under these rules.
  • The protocols apply to citizens from any country and from flights from any destination.
  • Infants up to 2 years old are considered a priority group and are not required to show a negative PCR tests nor a vaccination certificate.

The procedures that apply upon arrival at the airport can be found in this video of Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito.
If you are proceeding to the Galápagos Islands, additional measures apply. Most importantly, a
 negative PCR-Test for entry to the Galápagos Islands remains mandatory, even if travellers can present a proof of vaccination. Please read our blog with detailed information here

Local rules

All travelers entering Ecuador must continue to comply with the bio-security measures established by the Ministry of Public Health such as:

  • Mandatory use of masks
  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water
  • Permanent use of at least 70% alcohol or antibacterial gel
  • Maintain a physical distance of 2 meters
  • Avoid participating in meetings including more than 10 people in closed spaces.

Exploring the country later

Ecuador was among one of the first countries in Latin America to secure the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) ‘Safe Travels’ stamp (more information can be found here). You can think of additional sanitary measures, maintaining an appropriate distance, 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.

Aves Travels aims to keep this page up-to-date with the latest information and requirements, but changes can occur at any time. For the most recent information, always check with your airline, the Ecuadorian consulate or the Dutch embassy for Ecuador based in Peru.

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