Malacañang on Sunday reiterated the need for the public to stay at home, saying that easing restrictions was to revitalize the economy and not because the Philippines is now safe from the coronavirus disease.
In a statement, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. appealed to the public to continue following quarantine measures even as several businesses have been allowed to restart operations.
"We must understand that we have started to slowly ease restrictions in order to revitalize the economy, and not because we are safe," he said.
"We must learn from other countries like South Korea, which contained the spread of the virus but later experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases when citizens became relaxes," added Roque.
Metro Manila, along with several "high-risk areas," has been on lockdown since March 17. This has since shifted a modified enhanced community quarantine starting May 16, paving the way for more businesses to resume operations.
Economic managers predict losses to reach as much as P2.0 trillion, as businesses were hit by restrictions that have been ongoing for two months as of writing.
With the reopening of malls, crowds were reported in several establishments during the first day of the implementation of the MECQ.
"The Palace therefore asks for the cooperation of the public as the whole country remains in quarantine. We must not put to waste our collective efforts and sacrifices," said Roque.
"Stay at home, go out to do essential work or when authorized as we ramp up testing. We must continue to be vigilant of the risks of COVID-19, conduct proper hygiene, wear face masks or face shield, and observe social or physical distancing," he added.
Roque's statements were mirrored by lawmakers who also urged the public to refrain from going out as a "second wave" is likely should social distancing measures be ignored.
'Agencies, LGUs not prepared'
"What is worrisome is that when the IATF declared some areas as GCQ and MECQ, the LGUs—and even national agencies—are not even prepared, or even near in realizing the COVID T3 strategy which is supposed to be already in a satisfactory operational level by this time," Senator Nancy Binay said in a separate statement.
"Kaya yung sinasabing 'second wave,' we all know that it's not a question of if, but when. At kung pagbabatayan natin yung bugso ng mga tao kahapon (May 16), well, don't expect just a second wave--prepare for a tsunami!" she added.
Meanwhile, Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go warned that the health crisis could be extended as the public ignores health warnings.
"Naiintindihan ko na ang ating mga kababayan ay gustong gusto na makawala sa kanilang mga bahay. After around 60 days of community quarantine, gusto na nilang makalaya, makagalaw, makahinga at makita ang araw ng walang takot. Unti-unti rin po nating binubuksan ang mga establisimiyento para mabuhay muli ang ekonomiya. Pero huwag po natin biglain dahil tayo rin ang mahihirapan kapag lumala muli ang pagkalat ng sakit," he said in a separate statement.
"Huwag muna po tayo maging kampante dahil habang sinusubukan nating matigil ang first wave, mas nakakatakot kung magkaroon pa ng second wave ng pagkalat ng sakit na ito," added Go. — BM, GMA News