Two months have passed since my previous blog. Unfortunately, we haven’t made much progress in Quito during this time. Okay, the measures were eased a little. We’re now allowed to leave the house up to three days per week and businesses can let up to 50% of their staff return to the office. But things are certainly not back to normal.
Our office is set right in the commercial heart of the city. An area that always used to be crowded with people and where parking was a nightmare. But when I look out onto the street these days, I see a lifeless, abandoned ‘avenida’. Dozens of eateries have been closed for good and a multitude of office spaces has become vacant.
According to the figures reported by the social security services earlier this week, more than 270,000 people across the country have lost their jobs during the past four months. That’s as much as 10% of all insured people. And the end isn’t yet in sight!
People can’t fall back on state support or benefits here. They’d be lucky to find something in the informal sector or on the street. However, non-adherence to the coronavirus measures is particularly widespread among these lower social classes. After all, how can you wash your hands when you have no access to running water? Social distancing is often not observed, either.
The police does attempt to enforce the measures, but this often turns into a cat-and-mouse game, where the mouse simply escapes and runs off. The number of new Covid-19 cases is rapidly going up again in Quito. Chances of another lockdown seem quite high.
In addition to the economic battlefield, the country also turned into a political battlefield. Many leaders were removed from office in recent weeks due to mismanagement or fraud in connection with the purchase of face masks and coronavirus tests. When will they ever learn?
Other leaders resigned of their own accord because they couldn’t handle it any longer. Among them was the vice president of the country, which meant that we’re getting the fourth new deputy president in three years’ time. Unprecedented! Just like the coronavirus, this never happened in the entire history of this country, either.
Victor van Dijk,
Area manager South America, FleuraMetz
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