The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis which has impacted many aspects of daily life worldwide. Every country in the world has prohibited leisure travel or closed its borders, preventing us from being able to provide our travelers with the experiences they planned for this year, and leaving us unsure when we may resume the work we love.
President of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno declared a state of emergency in Ecuador on the night of Monday, March 16, 2020. In a National Network, the President declared that he has ordered the closure of public services, with the exception of health, safety, and risks and those that, as an emergency, the ministries decide to keep open. The alert was issued for a period of 60 days and it is planned to extend it if necessary.
The main measures of the central government for the prevention of COVID-19 are:
• The National Government ordered the resumption of commercial passenger flights from June 1st, 2020. The resumption of flights will be gradual and will depend on factors such as demand, the ability of airlines to reactivate their fleet and conditions at destination airports.
• Since March 18th, 2019 Ecuador’s local health authorities have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus in the country. The most important one is compulsory quarantine that has been imposed on the majority of cities in the country, including Quito and Guayaquil. From 14:00 pm to 05:00 am. If a city or district is under quarantine, it is generally possible to leave your home for certain purposes (doctor’s visit, shopping, etc.) by applying online for “salvoconductos” (safe conduct). Since June 3rd, 2020, this measure will go from a "red light" (quarantine) to a yellow light (reactivation) for the local population. It will start with the reactivation of some production sectors under health and safety protocols. The curfew will be from 18:00 pm to 05:00 am and social places will open at half capacity.
• Restaurants, malls, bars, shops and many hotels are currently closed along the country and currently only supermarkets, drugstores and petrol stations remain open. Schools, kinder gardens and universities have been closed since 16th March.
• Since March 18th, wearing a face mask has also been compulsory in all public places (including supermarkets, pharmacies, health care facilities).
• Events in agglomerations are totally prohibited throughout the national territory.
• The land border is partially open, those who wish to enter must carry out a scheduled quarantine.
• Social events of all kinds are suspended, as are those of a religious nature.
• The entry to the Galapagos Islands is prohibited, with the exception of humanitarian flights to transfer residents.
• Nursing homes may not be visited, as they are the most vulnerable group.
• Visits to social rehabilitation centers will be under a special protocol.
• It is prohibited to not attend a person with symptoms of COVID-19 in a medical center.
• The government will proceed to penalize those who fail to comply with the rules and measures.
On June 3rd, Ecuador will begin to reopen businesses and interprovincial travel. Airports will be reopened on June 1st, with the resumption of commercial passenger flights. The resumption of flights will depend on factors such as demand, conditions at destination airports, and the ability of airlines to return to work. Curfew will apply from 6pm to 5am. Public transport will resume gradually, with reduced capacity to avoid crowding. Mainland tours will be operated normally from July applying all the protocols required. On the other hand, The Galapagos islands started to reactivate their local economy on May 26th, 2020. As the reactivation is only for citizens it will take longer time to recover. We are expecting to operate in August.
From May 3rd, restrictions began to lessen in stages based on the risk level within the specific region of the country using an epidemiological “traffic light” system, which classifies areas in red, yellow or green according to coronavirus (COVID-19) statistics.
- A 2pm to 5am curfew will remain in place for all areas designated "red zones."
- A 6pm to 5am curfew will remain in place for all "yellow" areas.
- A 12am to 5am curfew will restrict movement in "green" areas.
- Face masks are mandatory in all public areas nationwide.
- Interprovincial travel requires a safe passage document for the authorization of your trip
- Public gatherings are prohibited.
Airlines June 1st, 2020
After 70 days of confinement, Ecuador's airports have already prepared commercial flights, both domestic and international, since Monday June 1st 2020.
Travelers must meet a series of requirements that are detailed in the protocols approved by the national Emergency Operations Committee, which could mean more time for controls.
For the commercial air operations, all airports and airlines must comply with the "Guidelines for Reactivation of International and Domestic Flights", drawn up by the Technical Working Table No. 3 "Essential Basic Services".
Only 30% of frequencies that were routinely authorized at an airport have been approved.
Recommendations for the passenger:
- Carry a mask, which will be used before entering the airport, airplane and at the destination.
- Have your boarding pass printed, or through applications on cell phones.
- Bring your ID
- The machines to print the boarding pass will be enabled. As well as the machines for each passenger to check luggage.
- Only passengers presenting their air ticket will be allowed to enter the airport.
- In the event that a passenger requires assistance, a companion will be allowed to enter the registration or check-in counter.
- For the transfer to each airport, the public or private means of transportation available may be used, according to the provisions of the National COE.
- Passengers must abide by all biosafety regulations, such as distancing, use of 70% alcohol, hand washing.
- Upon entering the airport:
- There will be temperature taking on admission, taking other symptoms such as oxygen saturation, or loss of smell even in asymptomatic patients.
- They will use thermal cameras at the entrance to the facilities and in the entrance area to the arrival’s migration hall.
- In Quito they have installed foot baths to disinfect footwear and luggage wheels.
- People with a temperature above 38ºC (100°F) will not be allowed to enter.
- There will be triage before and after boarding the plane.
- Show your documentation, this means, have your boarding pass printed, or in an app on your cell phone.
- Signs and biosecurity in airports (Airports already have adequate signs to identify social distancing measures.)
- Airport and airline personnel must use masks.
- Passengers will be controlled to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 meters (6 feet) between them, both in the pre-boarding lounges and at the time of boarding, therefore there are signposted places.
- The crew will abide by the use of masks, gloves and other recommended disinfection measures throughout the flight.
- In the waiting area, the central chairs have been disabled, placing signs to prohibit passengers from sitting together.
- Sanitary protective screens have been installed in all customer service counters and departure lounge stations to avoid contact between passengers and airline agents.
- The airports in Quito and Guayaquil have already created adequate spaces for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, to which other passengers do not have access.
- Passengers from abroad must present a negative PCR test at the airport, taken within seventy-two (72) hours prior to the flight. If they do not have it, they must submit to the tests of the Ministry of Health or the Municipality upon arrival.
- If the traveler arrives with a negative PCR test, they can do the isolation at home.
- Passengers who come from abroad must stay in Obligatory Isolation at their home or hotel for a period of 14 days. Passengers must bear the expenses generated by this requirement.
- Priority groups (children and adolescents up to 18 years old; pregnant women; people with disabilities; senior citizens) will be able to complete the Obligatory Isolation at home.
- International passengers must present the “Traveler's Health Declaration Form” upon arrival.
- The temperature of the passengers on arrival will be taken by the health personnel at the airport.
The Galapagos June 1st, 2020
Vice President Sonnenholzner says that tourist activities in the Galapagos will resume on July 1st, 2020. The Vice President said that the Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal, are free of covid-19. The Vice President visited the Galapagos on Friday, May 29th, 2020 with the Minister of Health, Juan Carlos Zeballos, to evaluate the health system and deliver medical supplies and rapid tests. In the Galapagos Islands the health emergency has been adequately managed and the government are working with the local authorities so that from July 1st this tourist destination will reopen its doors with new control regulations.
In addition, the Vice President assured that the islands of Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal are the first provinces of Ecuador to be free of covid-19.
This content has been originally published by Diario EL COMERCIO
IN ADVENTURE JOURNEYS, WE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY OF OUR TRAVELERS VERY SERIOUSLY
As a company, we’ve made many difficult decisions since the beginning of this crisis, including the decision to postpone all of our travelers’ adventures planned for these months to protect their health and safety. For the same reason as the world starts to adjust to a new normality, we have adapted the way we do most of our everyday activities and we have implemented new security measures that will be useful to start reactivating tourism in our country.
This challenge has led us to reinvent each process throughout the entire travel experience of our clients, both in domestic flights, ground transportation, accommodation, activities, visit sites, food, etc. Both, we and each service provider must take on new tasks: learning to assess and identify health risks that can pose a danger to travelers.
We have made the necessary adjustments in our operation to provide wider spaces for our clients according to the official recommendations of the health organizations. With the main goal of rebuild travelers' confidence and sense of security in unique places as the Galapagos Islands, truly believing that this will support them to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have been providing new training for employees on implementing these measures with oversight on execution; areas, reconfiguring public spaces, or limiting the number of customers in various areas.
All standard hygiene and custody procedures will be monitored by our staff and will be strictly carried out by our guides and destination providers. We have stablished a new policy of prohibiting sick employees or employees with symptoms to be part of AJ Staff during the emergency.
The necessary steps during the travel process must be attended before departure rather than upon arrival. Health control measures must be implemented to ensure that passengers have the required authorization to travel between destinations.
We are totally committed to supervise that all the hotels, restaurants, ground transportation services, airlines and airports included in our regular operations have their own health and safety protocols, distancing measures and a rigorous process of observing environmentally friendly actions.
Some new security measures will be implemented and will only be in force for as long as deemed necessary, while other adjustments given the global outlook may become a new operating standard.
Taking into consideration the previously stated, we have decided to put a special emphasis on the following processes to avoid the spread of Covid-19 during our trip operation:
Hygiene & Disinfection:
• 2 pair of gloves per person/ per day (provided by AJ on destination).
• N95 Face mask per person/ per day (mandatory, passengers must bring them to the country).
• Antiseptic gel dispenser in each car/ mini bus / coach, accommodation, land and sea transportation, restaurants and all places where passengers will have contact with.
• All providers will disinfect transportation, hotel facilities, restaurant facilities and all equipment prior to use (especially mask and snorkel tube), although it would be ideal for each passenger to at least bring their own to avoid any type of contact.
• Hotel online check in – prior to arrival in all hotels in mainland and Galapagos.
• Electronic ticket for museums, churches and all entrances that are not included (No need to buy tickets on the destination/ AJ will provide assistance with the online tickets).
• Online INGALA Transit Control Card USD 20 per person/ in cash (Galapagos) - prior departure to the Islands.
• Previous collection of Galapagos National Entrance fee USD 100 per person / in cash (Galapagos) - prior departure to the Islands (No need to pay directly in Galapagos airport- TO BE CONFIRMED with National Park Regulations).
• Web check in in LATAM & AVIANCA Airlines prior traveling to the Galapagos Islands.
Below we will give details of the main aspects in which social distancing will be applied.
• In Galapagos speed boats, water taxis, navigation boats all the crew will use biosafety suits and equipment.
• In Ecuador mainland transportation: Passengers will be seated skipping a place to maintain the distance required.
- 1 to 2 passengers / Guide Driver/ One car.
- 3 to 4 passengers/ Guide Driver / Van (8 pax capacity).
- 5 to 9 passengers/ Guide + Driver / Mini bus (19 pax capacity).
- 10 to 16 passengers/ Guide + Driver/ Coach (32 pax capacity).
- 16 to 20 passengers/ Guide + Driver/ Coach (40 pax capacity).
• Breakfast available in all hotels (room service available) .
• Lunch available (pic nics or box lunches prepared with all health standards and delivered to each client by our guide) and will be taken in separate and safe places in the middle of nature as planned on the itinerary. In few restaurants private service will be offered only for our clients.
• Dinner available in all hotels (room service available)
• All passengers must bring their medications from their countries and avoid acquired them here in Ecuador, specially sea sickness and altitude sickness pills.
Pre tour Online Briefing (advices of safety protocols for Cov-19 operation)
• All passengers must have an online briefing prior arrival in which guide will explain all the measures they will need to take and things they will need to bring prior arrival in Ecuador. Likewise, the relevant information regarding the trip and changes made due to safety reasons.
• All visits planed in the itinerary will be operated in order to avoid the crowded. AJ will take advantage of the country’s geography to develop their activities in open places to make passengers feel secure during the visits.
• Souvenirs and local products needed to be purchased by customers will be presented on a table in hotels with all the security measures for customers to get them. Payments will be assisted by our AJ Staff/ AJ guide and also could be made online with a credit card from the client to AJ to avoid handling and exchanging money with merchants IF required. AJ will be responsible for paying in cash to the vendors who own the products.
Despite the current situation, we remain as passionate about travel as we've always been and until we can start exploring again, we will keep working hard to recover all the confidence in our beloved destinations.