CEBU, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has recommended placing Cebu City under modified enhanced community quarantine from June 1 through 15 but Mayor Edgardo Labella is appealing for general community quarantine instead.
The task force’s MECQ recommendation for Cebu City was based on the assessment that the city remains a “high-risk area.” The city’s ECQ status is set to end in three days.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, in a presentation last May 13, explained the features of an MECQ, as reported by Rappler:
There will be strict stay-at-home measures but people will be allowed to leave their homes only to obtain essential goods and go to work in industries allowed to resume by the government. High-risk persons (persons aged 0-20 and 61 or older, pregnant women, people with health risks) can go out only to obtain essential goods that no one can get for them, or for work in permitted industries.
Exercising outdoors, like jogging and biking, are now allowed if people wear masks and stay two meters apart.
Essential industries like health care, pharmacies, veterinary clinics, food manufacturing and supply chains, and groceries can operate at full capacity.
Media establishments, producers of cement and steel, BPO and export-oriented establishments that can operate off-site, mining and quarrying, e-commerce, postal and e-delivery services, rental and leasing of vehicles and equipment for permitted sectors, recruitment for permitted sectors, repair of computers, personal and household goods, and housing services can operate at full capacity.
Certain other industries and establishments can operate at 50% capacity, like beverage makers, real estate, advertising, film and music production, clothing stores, bookstores, baby supplies, flowers and jewelry shops.
Transportation, like private shuttles, will be allowed but only for essential work and services. There will still be no public transportation like trains, buses, jeeps, taxis, or transport network vehicle services (like Grab). Private cars are allowed, as long as only two people sit per row. Motorcycles, bicycles, and e-scooters allowed with only one rider.
There will be no domestic flights, no inter-island travel, limited international flights, but Filipinos from abroad will be allowed to fly home.
How about government offices? Skeletal workforce shall be observed in office premises while the rest shall work from home. Also, physical classes can’t resume yet.
Labella, however, believes the city is ready for GCQ.
“Our strategic community testing has already been completed and we are confident that the City of Cebu is ready to transition into general community quarantine,” read Labella’s appeal sent to the IATF.
Among the factors cited by Labella in his appeal is the number of cases recorded, as well as deaths. As of May 28, there are 2,055 coronavirus cases in the city, but the mayor stressed that the total number of deaths remain at 25.
He also wrote that the total number of recoveries in the city is also increasing. As of yesterday, it has reached 471. Another factor is that the city’s medical experts have pegged the critical care utilization rate at 40 percent.
Labella also stressed that the case doubling time in the city is more than seven days and there is significant indication of a continuous reduction in additional cases.
“Given the foregoing, it is but a logical step for the city government to transition into general community quarantine but with the corollary discretion to place under segmental and sequential lockdown critical areas,” the appeal further read.
Labella, in an interview said GCQ will also allow residents to start looking for livelihood.
He warned residents, though, that should the city be back to GCQ, they should maintain self-discipline.
He also reminded the public of his standing orders such as the mandatory wearing of masks, washing of hands, and implementing of social distancing, among others.
“If you have no important business to be outside of your home, stay home,” said Labella.
Security measures remain
While Cebu City will transition to the less strict restrictions, police deployment will remain, said Police Regional Office-7 Director Albert Ignatius Ferro.
Ferro said that despite the implementation of the MECQ until June 15, the “critical zones” will remain on lockdown and total lockdown. Those areas not included in the critical zones may not be placed under strict restrictions but gradual transition.
“We don’t want to have a second outbreak, a second wave. Pag dili ta magsunod in the strategy on how we can lessen or control the spread of disease, ato man makita tung sa other countries na talagang grabe ang mortalities, better na gradual atong transitioning,” Ferro said.
Meanwhile, Colonel Josefino Ligan, Cebu City Police Office director, said that there will still be street regulations under MECQ but assured the public that they will be relaxed.
Ligan said that jogging, walking outdoors, running and biking will be allowed around the MECQ areas, provided that the social distancing will be observed.
Quarantine passes will still be checked by the authorities as the quarantine control points or checkpoints will remain. JMD (FREEMAN)