President Rodrigo Duterte has returned Metro Manila and nearby provinces to a general community quarantine as proposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
In a televised briefing from Davao, Duterte said the following areas will be under GCQ:
Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City in Cebu, and the municipalities of Minglanilla and Consolacion.
The rest of the country will be under modified GCQ.
“Just be careful. Follow the safeguards,” Duterte reminded the public.
The new directive will be in effect starting Wednesday, August 19, and will last until Monday, August 31.
That will be GCQ for Metro Manila, 11 provinces, cities from Aug. 19 to 31 @gmanews— Joseph Morong ???????? (@Joseph_Morong) August 17, 2020
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said restrictions under GCQ were more relaxed compared to the modified enhanced community quarantine Metro Manila was under for two weeks.
“Mas marami pong industriyang bukas. Pupuwede po ang dine-in sa mga restaurant, pupuwede po na magkaroon ng religious services pero hanggang 30% lang po," Roque said.
"Halos lahat po ng industriya ay magbubukas bukod na lang po doon sa maraming natitipon-tipon, ‘yung mga entertainment, at ‘yung mga amusement para po sa bata,” he added.
Under GCQ, more establishments will be allowed to open at varying levels of capacity.
The Labor and Trade Departments have also released guidelines for infection prevention in workplaces in GCQ areas.
Travel guidelines for areas under GCQ also limit movement to essential purposes only.
‘Refreshed’ COVID-19 response
Roque said the government used the two-week modified enhanced community quarantine to “refresh” the country’s pandemic response.
He said that the government would improve testing, tracing, and isolation capabilities as well as continue the active case finding initiative of the Department of Health.
Roque added that 250 beds exclusively for COVID-19 patients were inaugurated at the East Avenue Medical Center earlier on Monday, while the seamless hospital referral system has also been operational.
“Ginamit po natin ‘yung dalawang linggong MECQ para po pag-isipan kung paano tayo magre-reboot, paano magre-refresh ng approach, at ito nga po ang gagawin natin habang nagbubukas tayo ng ekonomiya, mas maigting na mga pamamaraan para mapalakas po ang testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment,” Roque said.
Experts from the University of the Philippines earlier urged the government to extend the MECQ for 15 more days to prevent an “uncontrolled” spike in infections.
The Philippines has logged 164,474 COVID-19 cases as of Monday afternoon, still the highest across Southeast Asia. —Julia Mari Ornedo/NB/KG, GMA News