Travel in Ecuador - Corona Update

Posted by Marianne Salmans (status 19-08-2020)

“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. However, similar to the current situation in Europe, the number of infections has continued to increase mainly in cities such as Quito.

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 has returned since June and several National Parks such as Cotopaxi and El Cajas are open to the public. The airports of Quito and Guayaquil are open to international traffic.

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, currently on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 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:

  • All arrivals must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 10 days before entering the country. As long as they don’t present symptoms of COVID, they do not need to fulfil a mandatory preventive quarantine period.
  • Travelers without an international PCR test must undertake, at their own expense, a PCR test upon arrival (or at their accommodation) and then proceed to quarantine in temporary accommodation to await the results. With a negative test result, they may continue their journeys.
  • 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 at the airport of entry.
  • All travelers fill out a Health Status Declaration form, 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.
  • Travelers under 18 are considered a priority group and are not required to show negative PCR tests.

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. Please read our blog with detailed information here

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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