GCQ in Metro Manila eyed until December
Metro Manila, the country’s economic center, has been under GCQ since the second week of August.
Miguel De Guzman, file
GCQ in Metro Manila eyed until December
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — While the government is gradually reopening the pandemic-hit economy, there is an emerging consensus among officials to extend the general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila until December, Malacañang said yesterday.

Under GCQ, most industries can operate partially, but restrictions against gatherings remain in place.

Metro Manila, the country’s economic center, has been under GCQ since the second week of August.

The capital region, which accounts for more than a third of the Philippine economy, will be under the quarantine classification until the end of the month.

Metro Manila mayors have recommended the placing of the capital region under GCQ until the end of the year, noting that protocols on economic activity can be relaxed without downgrading the quarantine classification.

“That’s the emerging consensus, but I do not want to preempt it because it is a collegial decision,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said when asked about the proposal to keep Metro Manila under GCQ until the end of 2020.

“But what we are seeing right now is while Metro Manila is under GCQ, we have a wider reopening of industries and that is what we need because it’s part of our message to protect our lives so we can continue with our livelihood,” he added.

Roque said the GCQ being implemented in Metro Manila is more lenient because of the move to increase the allowed capacities of businesses.

He nevertheless reiterated that it is possible for the capital region to be downgraded to a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the most lenient classification, wherein more businesses can operate at a much larger capacity.

“Let’s see if it is possible, if the (COVID-19) numbers go down. We make decisions monthly and October has not yet ended. While we already have initial data, our experts are still studying them to determine the classifications for the month of November,” Roque, also the spokesman for the government’s pandemic task force, said. “So let us just continue wearing face masks, washing our hands and observing physical distancing and I think anything is possible.

But what is non-negotiable is we need to work regardless of the (quarantine) classification,” he added. ?He admitted that one of the reasons why the government’s pandemic task force is hesitant to talk about a downgrade to MGCQ is the possibility that people might be complacent with regard to health protocols. ?“That’s part of it but I think the numbers are improving because our countrymen are following health protocols,” he said.

President Duterte is expected to announce the updated quarantine classifications before the end of the month.

But the Metro Manila Council (MMC), composed of 17 mayors, has already proposed to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) a couple of more relaxed rules for the capital region to help revive businesses brought down by community quarantine restrictions.

MMC chairman and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez told Teleradyo yesterday that the body has “agreed to broaden the age group of authorized persons outside residence or APOR in NCR, which is from 18 to 65 years old.”

Currently, the IATF – which sets the government’s response measures to the coronavirus disease pandemic – permits people aged 21 to 59 to go out of their houses, and at the same time prohibits outdoor activities for people aged 20 and below and senior citizens or those who are 60 years old and above.

The MMC has also recommended to shorten curfew hours, except in Navotas City where it will remain at 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., said Metropolitan Manila Development Authority general manager Jose Arturo Garcia.

If approved by the IATF, the Metro Manila government units could revise the ordinances mandating curfew hours and the age bracket of people allowed outdoors. –Ghio Ong, Neil Jayson Servallos, Christian Imperio

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