What You Need to Know about COVID and Travelling in Ecuador
The global pandemic forced what was once considered ‘normal life’ to a pause. When global travel stopped in March 2020, Ecuador tightly shut its borders as it struggled to handle the pandemic internally. However today, Ecuador’s borders are open to most tourists and therefore might be an option whenever you are ready to begin travelling again.
Whether you’ve been dreaming of Latin American cuisine or immersing yourself in the rainforest, Ecuador might be an ideal destination for you. Here are some things that you need to know about the COVID outbreak and restrictions in Ecuador before you decide to visit.
Crossing the Border into Ecuador
Ecuador has not banned any countries from entering but special measures apply for travellers arriving from Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, or the European Union. All travellers are required to fill out a Health Declaration Form before arrival.
You must have a negative COVID PCR test taken within ten days before arrival for entry to Ecuador. Travellers who do not provide results will be subject to a PCR or rapid antigen test at their own expense upon arrival, followed by mandatory preventive isolation in a hotel or other accommodation authorized for such purpose. Travellers that have received negative test results (either before or upon arrival) may freely move within the continental territory of Ecuador.
Travellers arriving from the European Union, the United Kingdom, South Africa, or Australia must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test result to board the plane and take a rapid antigen test at the airport upon arrival in Ecuador. Those who have a negative PCR test result must quarantine for five days at a hotel approved by the Ministry of Tourism, while those who present a positive test result or who do not have a test result must quarantine for ten days.
The National Emergency Operations Committee (COE) may also conduct random rapid antigen tests to passengers from international flights on entry.
Upon Arrival in Ecuador
Ecuador has had 214,614 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 14,059 deaths and 190,350 recovered patients. While data is conflicting between the Ecuadorian government and the WHO, the situation on the ground in Ecuador is moderately stable, with restaurants and shops taking precautions to prevent the spread with temperature checks and sanitation measures. Individuals wear masks at all times while on the street and in public areas. Ecuador was hard-hit by the pandemic in March and April, which has pushed many citizens to comply strictly with sanitation measures.
The most recent COVID measures include limited and regulated sales and consumption of alcohol, face masks are mandatory when in public (subject to hefty fines for non-compliance) and social distancing measures are in effect.
What Areas Are Safe for Travel in Ecuador?
Ecuador is relatively easy and fast to travel in and under normal circumstances, a trip to the beach or across provinces is nothing out of the ordinary. However, the National Service for Risk and Emergency Management and the Ministry of Tourism are modifying transportation rules and activities that don’t guarantee social distancing. Ecuador uses a traffic light system (red, yellow, green) to denote Covid risk in its 24 provinces; travel is allowed freely within provinces with yellow or green classifications.
All land borders with Peru and Colombia remain closed until further notice. Ports remain closed for travel/tourism activities and beaches are restricted; the beach opening pilot plan can be found here. Public transportation is operational in a reduced capacity in the large cities of Quito and Guayaquil.
Ecuador is well-known as the gateway to the Galapagos Islands and is a popular destination for travel; 271,238 people visited the Islands in 2019. Travelling to the Galapagos Islands for international tourists has always been highly regulated, but now demands an additional series of items for safe entry:
- Negative PCR results from no more than 96 hours before arrival in the Galapagos (if you stay in Ecuador a few days before travelling to Baltra, you have to get another test)
- A Round Trip air ticket between the islands and mainland
- “Salvoconducto” from your tour operator (safe passage document issued by the Ministry of Tourism)
- Galapagos Transit Permit provided by the Galapagos Government
- Health declaration form
- Mandatory health insurance (for international travellers only).
Further guidelines for the entry of tourists to the Galapagos Islands can be found here.
While you familiarise yourself with your tourist destination, be sure to stay up to date with Ecuador’s changing situation here. There are risks associated with travel at any time, and especially during a pandemic, so stay informed if you do make the decision to travel so you can stay safe and avoid any last-minute surprises. Friends of Wallacea is opening our Ecuador site for day trips and group tours in Winter 2021.
Feel free to drop your email here to get the latest updates and be the first to know when we open our Ecuador site.