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.
AUGUST 5TH.- GALAPAGOS RESUMES TOURIST ACTIVITY WITH THE FIRST FLIGHT OF 138 PASSENGERS
The long wait is over. After more than four months without tourist activity, The Galapagos Islands resume commercial flights today and receive the first visitors.
It will be the resumption of tourism under new normality and rules to which visitors must submit to avoid COVID-19 infections.
The first scheduled flight from Latam to the Galapagos departed from Quito at 08:13 on Monday 3rd, through Guayaquil, and then to the ecological airport of Baltra.
The airline reported that 138 passengers departed on that flight, which marks the return of regular operations.
And of course, it will be a gradual, moderate return, without the same frequencies that the airline handled before COVID-19. For now, it will only have two flights per week, from Quito and Guayaquil to Baltra, the main gateway to the Galapagos.
Avianca, the other remaining airline serving that market will resume operations on August 9th with a Sunday flight.
After this hard moment that the Galapagos Island has passed, the operators recognize that the reactivation will be slow, with little hotel occupancy in this month of August, which is part of the high season.
Andrés Ordóñez, executive director of the Galapagos Chamber of Tourism, noted that although there are fewer air frequencies, the resumption of operations is already somewhat encouraging.
The leader estimated that this month a little more than 1,000 passengers could arrive, which is less than the average number of visitors arriving on the islands.
He added that the establishments are ready to serve tourists since they have had a long process to adapt to biosafety protocols.
One of the requirements for tourists to visit the archipelago is to have the negative result of a real-time PCR test to detect COVID-19, taken a maximum of 96 hours before the trip. With negative tests, they will not need to be in mandatory isolation.
Norman Wray, president of the Galapagos Governing Council, has insisted that there are no cases in the Galapagos Islands and they have been working hard to prevent the virus from spreading.
In Baltra, where this first flight arrived, biosecurity measures have been adopted to try to reduce exposure to contagion. The dealership equipped the guards with helmets that detect the body temperature of the passengers.
This content has been originally published by El Universo.
AUGUST 14TH.- NATIONAL COE RESOLUTIONS
a. The curfew will run from 21:00 to 05:00 from Monday to Thursday; from Friday to Sunday it will run from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
b. The home delivery service may work until 10:00 p.m.
c. Selling liquor is prohibited from Friday to Sunday, with the exception of category 4 restaurants authorized by the Ministry of Government, and tourism authorized by the Ministry of Tourism, it will only be allowed as an accompanying drink.
The measures provided will be in effect during the period from August 15th to 31st, after which new protocols will be issued.
This content has been originally published by Gestión de Riesgos.
AUGUST 15TH.- NATIONAL COE RESOLUTIONS
a. The traveler who enters with a negative RT-PCR (COVID-19) test valid for up to ten (10) days before entering the country and without symptoms upon arrival; this person should not perform Mandatory Preventive Isolation (APO) and their movement may be free in Ecuadorian territory.
b. The traveler who does not have a negative RT-PCR (COVID-19) test upon entering the country, the traveler will immediately comply with Mandatory Preventive Isolation (APO) at the accommodation indicated in the protocol. An RT-PCR test may be performed at your cost at the authorized laboratories and comply with the Mandatory Preventive Isolation (APO) in temporary accommodation until the negative result is delivered.
With a negative result, the traveler will end his Mandatory Preventive Isolation (APO) and with a positive result, he/she must continue in Mandatory Preventive Isolation (APO) in temporary accommodation and the necessary health care will be provided according to his clinical picture. If you do not choose to undergo the RT-PCR (COVID-19) test, you must finish the Mandatory Preventive Isolation (APO) in temporary accommodation for a period of 10 days.
This content has been originally published by Gestión de Riesgos.
PROTOCOLS DECREED BY THE GOVERNMENT EMERGENCY COMMITTEE (COE) FOR ARRIVING INTERNATIONAL PASSENGERS
Passengers who present negative PCR test results for COVID-19 are free to travel around the country and do not need to perform mandatory preventive isolation. The test must have been performed within 10 days prior to the trip. Quick tests are not valid.
Passengers who do not present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 must begin their mandatory preventive isolation (APO, in Spanish) at temporary accommodation provided by the authorities. The passenger can undergo a PCR test, at their own cost, and in the event that it is negative, can leave the APO, after coordinating with the authorities.
All passengers must fill out and sign the Traveler’s Health Declaration and deliver it upon arrival in the country.
The following is the text of the new protocol in full:
The National COE, in permanent session on Saturday, August 15, 2020, by the unanimous vote of the full members, resolved:
Mandatory preventive isolation (APO henceforth), according to the general guidelines established by the Health Authority is for a period of at least ten (10) days. The count of APO days is from entry to the country (9 nights 10 days).
· Any person who undergoes an RT-PCR test (carried out up to 10 days before the trip or after arrival) and obtains a negative result, is exempt from undergoing the APO time.
· People belonging to priority care groups do not require an RT-PCR test and will perform the APO at home. If they arrive in the country with a negative RT-PCR test, they should not perform the APO.
· Passengers must fill out and sign, prior to disembarking, the Traveler’s Health Declaration, which will be delivered to Ministry of Public Health (MSP) personnel upon arrival.
· The MSP will classify passengers according to: priority and non-priority groups, the latter group will be classified depending on having a negative RT-PCR result or not, and then vital signs will be screened and the Declaration of Traveler’s Health will be received for all passengers at the points of entry.
· Travelers will be asked for a negative result of an RT-PCR test carried out up to 10 days before the trip.
· After arriving in Ecuador, the traveler who does not have a negative RT-PCR test upon entering the country may undergo an RT-PCR test, at his or her cost, and comply with the APO until the negative result is delivered. The traveler must personally manage with a laboratory accredited by ACESS for the laboratory service to go to the temporary accommodation where they are complying with the APO. The movement of the traveler to the laboratory sample collection point is not allowed. Once the result is obtained, the person will be able to leave the temporary accommodation, after validation and authorization from the Unified Command Post (Puesto de Mando Único, or PMU henceforth) to the email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the event that the result of the RT-PCR test is positive, the APO must be observed in the temporary accommodation until the ten days are completed. If the person presents symptoms, it takes at least three additional days to be completed in isolation, until the person does not have a fever, does not use antipyretics and does not have respiratory symptoms. The total number of minimum days will be thirteen (13) days.
· Officials accredited to diplomatic missions, consular and international organizations in Ecuador, servants of the National Police and Armed Forces of Ecuador, as well as their dependents, do not require an RT-PCT test and must take the APO in authorized institutional facilities or at their homes with prior authorization from the PMU. If they arrive in the country with a negative RT-PCR test, they should not perform the APO.
· In the event that the traveler leaves Ecuador with a negative RT-PCR test issued no more than 10 days before the trip and returns within that period, the traveler should not perform APO upon return, or perform another RT-PCR test in the country of origin.
· All costs of transportation, accommodation and food must be covered by the travelers.
· In cases where the APO time is carried out in a temporary accommodation site, the cost of the stay and food must be covered by the person who enters the country; Additionally, it must be carried out in the same city as the airport used to enter the country.
· In cases of unaccompanied children and adolescents and if a legal representative or a duly authorized person is not found, the immigration authority will coordinate with the National Directorate of Specialized Police for Children and Adolescents (Dinapen).
· The change of APO location, for any circumstance, will be requested with documentation to the PMU and whose decision will be notified to the parties involved in the process.
· In case of violation of the APO and of providing false information in the Traveler’s Health Declaration, travelers will be subject to the corresponding administrative, civil and criminal sanctions as established under current regulations.
· Throughout the procedure, the exercise of the rights of citizens subject to this protocol will be guaranteed.
· The PMUs will be in charge of operationalizing this protocol within their jurisdictions, these being the National PMU in Quito (the whole country) and the PMU Guayaquil (Guayaquil).
· The National PMU will authorize requests made from abroad in duly justified cases of domestic calamity, regardless of the airport where the passenger enters.
· The MSP must notify the Ministry of Transport and Public Works (MTOP) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility 48 hours in advance of the list of countries that maintain a high level of infection from which direct or stopover flights will be suspended.
· The institutions involved in this protocol for a further illustration will consider within their responsibilities and activities the Guidelines set out by the Health Authority for the implementation of the Protocol.
Corporación Quiport reminds citizens that it is the responsibility of national and municipal authorities to approve changes or extensions to the protocols in accordance with the evolution of the health situation in Ecuador. We ask everyone to stay informed through official channels.
This content has been originally published by Quiport.
COVID-19 GUIDELINES FOR TOURISTS ENTERING THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
GALAPAGOS TRAVEL PROCEDURE FROM MAINLAND ECUADOR (step by step).
At the departure airport (Quito or Guayaquil)
At the counter of the Governing Council of the Galapagos Special Regime (CGREG in Spanish) located at the airport:
- The agent will verify that the tourist has the appropriate waiver issued by the tour operator or by the accommodation duly authorized by the Ministry of Tourism (Insular Management Directorate), of the contracted services.
- The passenger pays for the traffic control card.
- In the case of travel groups, the tour operator can pay the value of the transit control card of its tourists through the means authorized by the CGREG.
- Next, tourists must pass through the Galapagos Agency for Biosecurity and Quarantine (ABG) checkpoint.
- Tourists must register at the airline counter and present their negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test performed up to 96 hours before entering the province.
Registration at the airline counter is mandatory, even if you have your boarding pass issued through electronic means and no luggage to check in.
COVID-19 symptom control (fever, cough, joint pain, anosmia, general malaise, headache) will also be carried out.
- Boarding and flight to Galapagos.
- During the flight, tourists must fill out the biosecurity control form issued by the Galapagos Agency for Biosecurity and Quarantine (ABG).
SPECIAL, ADDITIONAL ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Any international traveler wishing to transit via Quito or Guayaquil International Airport to the Galapagos should first arrive in-country with proof of a recent PCR test and then take a second PCR test at own expense upon arrival.
Travelers should then proceed to local lodging (in parts of Ecuador currently rated as Green or Yellow, but not Red, for COVID) for at least 48 hours to await test results. A second negative test result is required to be able to proceed to the Galapagos Islands.
Any person present in Ecuador (regardless of nationality or residence status) wishing to travel to the Galapagos Islands must present negative results from a PCR test taken no more than 96 hours prior to arrival. In all cases, a negative PCR test is required prior to travel to the Galapagos. With such results in hand, there is no quarantine required upon arrival in the Galapagos (nor to return to the mainland of Ecuador).
For more information, please see July 23, 2020 protocol released by the Special Regimen of the Galapagos Government Council, Ministry of Tourism, and the Ministry of Public Health.
SEPTEMBER 15th, 2020.
The National COE (Centro de Operaciones de Emergencias) Emergency Operations Center, issued on September 11th the guidelines that will be mandatory once the state of emergency has ended.
The governing state authorities in matters of health, traffic, land transportation and security must apply new requirements:
- Curfew is lifted after the end of the state of emergency.
- Freedom to move around the country at any time returns.
- Public policies and standards that regulate protocols for people infected by COVID-19 are applied.
- Corporate meetings, press conferences and academic meetings of up to 25 people are allowed.
- Restaurants can serve the public with 50% of the allowed capacity.
- Activities in archaeological sites, zoos, museums, national parks (except Yasuní National Park), with the entrance of 30% of visitors, for this, each institution must implement a protocol for this purpose.
- Limited sale of alcoholic beverages under the current legal system and measures regarding the consumption of these beverages.
- Biosecurity and social distancing measures in public spaces, public shows and beaches.
- Bars, clubs, entertainment centers and any activity that does not guarantee social distancing, won’t be allowed without the necessary requirements.
- Biosafety requirements are mandatory at all times: SOCIAL DISTANCING, USE OF MASK and CONSISTENT HAND WASHING.
- Interprovincial transportation will operate at 75% capacity.
- Provincial local governments on the coast will control regulations of public spaces of the beaches (including capacity and opening / closing hours). Monitoring of regulations is maintained through the DISTANCE 2 system of the SIS ECU -911. Those that are in Protected Areas, their opening will be regulated and authorized by the Ministry of Environment and Water, as the governing body.
All protocols created by the National COE remain in force.
SEPTEMBER 25th, 2020.
QUITO AIRPORT HAS BEGUN TO RETURN TO ITS NORMAL SCHEDULE FOR NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS
More than 166 thousand passengers have been flying to and from Quito airport between June 1st and September 24th.
Connectivity from Quito International Airport has been increasing steadily since the resumption of commercial passenger operations, on June 1st, for national and international service.
Regarding domestic flights, during the months of June and July, three airlines (Avianca, Latam and Aeroregional) offered connections with six destinations within the country (Guayaquil, Cuenca, Manta, Loja, El Coca and Santa Rosa). In August, two additional destinations were added (Esmeraldas and Galapagos).
International airlines grew from three in June to three destinations (Amsterdam, Miami, and Houston), to six in July with five destinations (Madrid and Fort Lauderdale were added) and to nine in August with seven destinations (Mexico City and Panama were added, although only for connections).
From all the airports that closed in Latin America due to the health emergency, Quito airport was the first to resume national and international flights, implementing strict health protection measures and applying the protocols established by the Emergency Operations Committee.
Quito started with 20 thousand passengers in June, then 42 thousand passengers in July and in August more than 48 thousand passengers. Throughout the entire period, between June 1st and September 24th, Quito exceeded 166 thousand passengers.
Indeed, the passengers traveling in August 2020, represent 10% of those registered in the same month of 2019.
On December 21, the Government of Ecuador announced a 30-day state of emergency to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. All U.S citizen tourists and residents are subject to local laws, including those related to the state of emergency. New restrictions include:
- All travelers (including U.S. citizens) arriving from the European Union, the United Kingdom, South Africa, or Australia, must present a negative PCR test taken within ten (10) days prior to arrival and must take a rapid antigen test at the airport upon arrival in Ecuador. Non-residents of Ecuador arriving from these locations must also quarantine for five (5) days at a hotel approved by the Ministry of Tourism, while residents of Ecuador must quarantine at the address indicated on their entry form. If the rapid antigen test is positive for COVID-19, the quarantine period increases to 10 days. The new restrictions do not affect U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and Ecuador whose travel did not originate in, or transit, the affected regions. The restrictions also do not affect U.S. citizens’ travel from Ecuador.
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.