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Bacolod, Tacloban join NCR under GCQ; Iligan placed under MECQ

The cities of Bacolod and Tacloban have joined Metro Manila in the areas placed under general community quarantine to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In a briefing on Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte added that Iligan had been placed under a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine.

Bulacan and Batangas will remain under GCQ.

The rest of the country will be under a less stringent modified general community quarantine. 

The latest quarantine classifications will be in effect from September 1 to 30. 

Quarantine restrictions

"Sa lahat po ng classification… kinakailangan ‘homeliners’ po tayo. Bawal lumabas unless para po sa indispensable na mga pangangailangan natin o ‘di kaya para magtrabaho para do’n sa mga industriya na pinapayagan na," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Under MECQ, only 25 percent of industries are allowed to operate, including "indispensable" establishments like banks and supermarkets.

Religious gatherings are also limited to five attendees and public transit is shut down, with employers tasked to provide shuttles for their workers.

Under GCQ, public transportation is allowed to operate at 25 to 50 percent capacity.

Roque also said "almost all" industries are allowed to open under this classification but religious gatherings are still limited to 10 people.

Under MGCQ, tourism and mass transportation are allowed to open, while 50 percent of the capacity of venues may be filled up for public gatherings like cinemas, concerts, sporting events, and religious activities.

Experts, mayors’ recommendations

Experts from the University of the Philippines earlier recommended a 15-day MECQ for Bacolod, Iligan, and Iloilo to arrest the surge of COVID-19 infections in those cities. 

The researchers said that an MECQ would “buy time for the hospitals and the health workers to deal with current challenges and to ensure that the health system... will not be overwhelmed.”

The experts added that the government may retain the GCQ prevailing over Metro Manila but also stressed the need for stricter enforcement of health protocols as well as more efficient local lockdowns.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila mayors recommended that GCQ be sustained over the capital region for the entire month of September. 

"Ang pinagbasehan po niyan ay 'yung pagbubukas ng ekonomiya nang dahan-dahan nang hindi po puwede pong i-compromise 'yung health protocol natin dito," Parañaque City Mayor and Metro Manila Council chairman Edwin Olivarez said.

Citing the guidelines, Roque said in May that ECQ refers to the implementation of temporary measures imposing stringent limitations on movement and transportation of people, strict regulation of operating industries, provision of food and essential services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community.

Metro Manila and Cebu City were previously under ECQ.

The MECQ, meanwhile, is the “transition phase” between ECQ and GCQ.

Under the MECQ, Roque said, stringent limiting movement and transportation of people, strict regulation of operating industries, provision of food and essential services are relaxed, and “the heightened presence of uniformed personnel becomes less necessary.”

“Ang GCQ, ito ay tumutukoy sa pansamantalang mga hakbang para malimitahan ang galaw, at transportasyon, regulation ng operating industries, and presence of uniformed personnel para ipatupad ang community protocols,” he said.

The MGCQ, on the other hand, is the “transition phase sa pagitan ng GCQ at tinatawag na new normal,” the Palace official said.

Temporary measures such as limiting movement and transportation, regulation of operating industries are relaxed and presence of uniformed personnel becomes less necessary. -NB, GMA News