Ecuador to suspend mandatory COVID-19 tests for domestic travellers

Flights between the Ecuadorian capital of Quito and the major city of Guayaquil will no longer require COVID-19 tests for

Ecuador REUTERSHenry Romero

Photo: Henry Romero/REUTERS

Flights between the Ecuadorian capital of Quito and the major city of Guayaquil will no longer require COVID-19 tests for travellers starting today.

Despite its small size, Ecuador has suffered a high number of COVID-19 cases relative to its Latin American neighbours. The country’s oil-dependent economy was heavily pummelled by the global dive in fossil fuel prices, and the IMF predicts that the economy will shrink by a calamitous 6.3% in 2020. Moreover, due to Ecuador’s reliance on the dollar for its currency, the administration of President Lenin Moreno cannot expand its money supply to counteract economic decline. Nor can it sustain a fiscal stimulus due to the onerous debts incurred by the previous administration of Rafael Correa.

Ecuador finds itself at an impasse. While Moreno was able to secure tax cuts and labour market deregulation in May, his own left-of-centre PAIS party, which dominates the National Assembly, has little will to further liberalise and diversify the economy. With an approval rating at 19%, Moreno is far from certain to win re-election in 2021.

Challengers within PAIS will likely attempt to stage a return to the party’s social democratic roots. Dumping Moreno may prove popular in the short run, but considering Ecuador’s monetary and fiscal constraints, it is unlikely that a pivot back to left-wing economic policies will help the nation’s economy recover.

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