Dear clients & travelers,
Happy Gringo has set-up this blog to help keep you all informed about Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, and how this might affect your travels here.
We aim to keep the blog updated as far as possible with all the latest information and will re-post whenever there is a significant change to be reported.
Last updated: Wednesday 8th April – 12:05
Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in Ecuador
At present, the Ministry of Health has reported 4,450 confirmed cases of the virus in Ecuador, with 242 deaths reported. The majority (over two thirds) of these cases have been in the province of Guayas in the coastal region of the country, with the city of Guayaquil particularly affected.
In Quito and the province of Pichincha there have so far been 440 confirmed cases, the situation is calm, curfews are being respected, and people are adapting to life working from home.
Cases are increasing in large numbers the past days, so we should all take extra precautions to avoid situations of risk or potential spread, and contact the 171 health line if you show any symptoms.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases at the Galapagos Islands
On 23rd March 2020, the first cases of the virus were recorded at the Galapagos Islands. There are currently 11 confirmed cases on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands.
Government Controls to enter Ecuador
VERY IMPORTANT: In the afternoon of 14th March 2020, the Ecuadorian government announced strict new border controls. As of 23:59 on Sunday 15th March all borders will be closed to incoming visitors – this includes flights, boats and overland borders. These measures will be in place for 3 weeks.
Please take this into consideration before attempting to travel.
If you are already traveling inside Ecuador, bear in mind that there will likely be very few flight options leaving the country, so we recommend that you get in touch with your international airline ASAP. At Quito Airport it is not possible to buy international tickets in person, so you should call your airline’s booking number, or make changes to your ticket online on the airline’s website.
Government Controls to travel to Galapagos
VERY IMPORTANT: Late afternoon of 14th March 2020, the Ecuadorian government announced new controls related to Galapagos. As of 23:59 on Sunday 15th March no foreign travelers will be able to enter the islands. Those passengers currently traveling at Galapagos are being recommended to reschedule their flights and return to Quito or Guayaquil. These measures will be in place for 3 weeks.
Up until the afternoon of 14th March, the operation of Galapagos cruises, and tours throughout Ecuador and the Galapagos were running normally and as planned.
VERY IMPORTANT: In the afternoon of 14th March 2020, the Ecuadorian government announced unexpected new border controls affecting incoming visitors, and entrance to National Parks including the Galapagos Islands, Yasuni, and all mainland parks. Travel in Ecuador and Galapagos is therefore not possible, and passengers are advised to leave the country and return home.
Happy Gringo sincerely apologizes for the sudden nature of this decision and wish to communicate that we are fully committed to helping all our clients out in this urgent situation. We will be getting in touch with all clients in Ecuador tonight or Sunday morning; Please call our emergency number +593 984295830 if you need assistance in the meantime.
As of 12th March 2020, schools and group social events such as church services and concerts have been temporarily suspended across the country.
As of 13th March, public museums and archaeological sites will be closed across the country until further notice.
As of 17th March, all businesses such as cafes, bars, restaurants & shops will be closed. Only supermarkets and pharmacies will continue in operation for the next 3 weeks. Social areas, parks, and beaches will also be closed. The country is under a state of emergency, with night time curfews enforced by police and military.
The city of Quito is in lockdown, all people have to stay at home. It is only allowed to leave your house if you are going to the hospital, pharmacy or supermarket. Circulation of private vehicles is also being controlled based on your licence plate number. Heavy fines are in place for anyone found breaking these rules, so please check carefully on the Municipio de Quito and Government websites.
Happy Gringo Office Service
In order to avoid the unnecessary spread of the coronavirus in Quito, and to protect the health and safety of our staff and their families, we consider that the most responsible action is to temporarily close our office; this will take effect from 6 pm on Monday 16th March 2020.
Our staff will continue serving and helping all of our valued customers from their homes and can be contacted via their regular Email and Skype Messenger addresses.
We do ask for your patience and understanding during this challenging time for us all. We are doing our very best to maintain our high levels of service, and to find satisfactory solutions for everyone.
Up until 14th March, Happy Gringo had only received a small handful of cancellation requests, with the vast majority of clients choosing to travel as planned.
With the border controls being imposed on 15th March there will, of course, be many more cancellation cases.
We continue to be open for business to help all passengers who need to re-arrange future travel plans. If you require emergency assistance before then, please call our emergency number +593 984295830. Our first priority is to help passengers who are currently in the country to be able to leave.
We are trying our very best under challenging circumstances, and we greatly appreciate your patience and understanding of this complex situation.
We cannot gibe one definite answer as to how cancellations will be processed, as we are having to discuss each individual case with your tour operator/service provider to try to resolve your case in a successful way. In many cases, cancellation terms are unfortunately being applied by yacht and lodge operators, whilst others are offering the option to postpone trips. We are representing our clients in each case and can talk directly with each of you in the weeks to come.
We are also here to help with letters for insurance companies, if necessary to reclaim your expenses.
One final word, putting everything into perspective, these are extremely challenging times for everybody, so please focus above all on staying safe and healthy, and we hope to be able to help you all to visit Ecuador and Galapagos at a later date, in calmer and happier circumstances 🙂
We make every effort to keep this information as up to date as possible, but due to the constantly changing nature of the virus situation & government travel restrictions, we cannot 100% guarantee the accuracy of what is published. The decision of whether to travel to Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands is a personal decision for each person to consider, after weighing up the facts available on the various sources of information available, such as the WHO website, and your own government’s travel advice.
The role of Happy Gringo is to a) keep our clients as informed as possible, b) help our clients out, within our powers, in the case of problems whilst traveling, and c) assist in the cancellation process for those who choose not to travel.