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MECQ, granular lockdown should be considered for NCR after Aug. 20, says DTI chief Lopez

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) wants the National Capital Region (NCR) placed under a less stringent form of quarantine when the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) expires on August 20.

The move, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Thursday,  will better prepare the government to balance the economy and livelihoods to health risks arising from the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the threat of the more contagious Delta variant.

“[We have] to consider MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) and granular lockdown, once we see the COVID numbers going down,” Lopez said in a text message.

“[I] am referring to the period before the August 20 end of ECQ so the next quarantine classification after August 20 can be more balanced with economy and jobs,” he added.

The country, however, recorded 12,021 new cases on Wednesday — the highest daily tally recorded since April 10.  The new infections pushed the country’s total caseload to 1,688,040, with 29,374 deaths.

Metro Manila was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20. However, the Department of Health said it may be extended due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

While both are strict lockdowns, the key difference between ECQ and MECQ is that religious activities and outdoor dining are allowed on the latter but on a limited capacity.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, the government's policy-making body in addressing the pandemic, will discuss on Thursday afternoon if Metro Manila will be placed under MECQ. —KBK, GMA News