Palace: Business that can't provide rides for employees should stay closed during MECQ

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace: Business that can't provide rides for employees should stay closed during MECQ
Commuters scramble for a ride in Commonwealth market last March 17, 2020. The government has suspended public transportation following the enhanced Community Quarantine imposed by the local government.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday advised companies in areas to be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to defer their reopening if they cannot provide transportation for their employees.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the restrictions on public transportation are being implemented to avoid a second wave of coronavirus cases.

"We do not want to be like other countries that reopened their economies and then experienced a second wave. If the company cannot provide a shuttle or if their employees do not have transportation, they should not open yet because it is important for us to avoid a second wave," Roque said.

"It's a policy decision. We want to restart the economy but not at the expense of having a second wave," he added.

High-risk areas Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu City will be placed under MECQ after May 15 while the rest of the country will be under the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ).

Office of the Presidential Spokesperson

Under MECQ, some forms of private transportation will be allowed as long as they observe safety protocols. Shuttle services provided by the government to frontliners are the only allowed mode of public transportation.

Private transportation allowed under MECQ are company shuttles but only half of their capacity should be filled; personal vehicles for workers in permitted sectors and activities (two persons per row), bicycle (one person only), motorcycle (one person only), and E-Scooter (one person only).

Under GCQ, all modes of public transport will be allowed but in a reduced capacity to observe safe physical distancing. All private transportation are also permitted in these areas.

Roque said the implementation of MECQ should not prevent the public from filing tax returns because accountants are allowed to work. He noted that under the guidelines approved by the government, accounting firms can deploy half of their personnel onsite.

"Under the new normal, if you can work (from) home, it should be work (from) home...If we do not file our tax returns, we won't have money that will go to government coffers that can be used for COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019)," the Palace spokesman said.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue has extended the filing of annual income tax returns until May 30.

Roque also clarified that the media passes issued by the Presidential Communications Operations Office remains valid even under MECQ.

"Based on my understanding, media companies submitted the names of all the employees and everyone was given IDs although not all of them are required to work in their [office] and most of them work (from) home," he added.

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