Metro Manila mayors want GCQ throughout holidays
The National Capital Region is home to more than 12 million people and the site of nearly half of over 423,000 coronavirus infections in the Philippines. It has been under GCQ since July.
Edd Gumban

Metro Manila mayors want GCQ throughout holidays

Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila mayors want their cities retained under general community quarantine (GCQ) until after the Christmas holidays, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday.

The National Capital Region is home to more than 12 million people and the site of nearly half of over 423,000 coronavirus infections in the Philippines. It has been under GCQ since July.

But Galvez noted in yesterday’s Laging Handa virtual press briefing that the Manila mayors are concerned over the possibility of a spike in coronavirus cases should the national government place Metro Manila under a modified GCQ status.

“We talked with the mayors and they said they want to retain the GCQ in Metro Manila until after the holidays. Maybe next year after the holidays, we can place Metro Manila under MGCQ,” Galvez said.

The MGCQ is the most lenient quarantine classification, wherein more businesses can operate at higher capacities and protocols on mass gatherings are more relaxed.

Most of the provinces and cities in the Philippines are now under MGCQ.

Galvez called on local government units (LGUs) to strictly implement health protocols during the Christmas season as well as the restrictions on unnecessary gatherings and movements to make sure that the spread of the virus will be contained.
“The fight against COVID-19 is not yet over. In 1991, there was a devolution of health services and give the responsibility for primary and secondary health care to LGUs. The metro mayors recommend (that we) keep the GCQ until the holidays are over. Any easing of restrictions can be considered next year after the holidays,” he added.

Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco expressed the same worry that cases would spike after the holidays.

“My stand is that even if we maintain GCQ, there is a big risk that cases will spike after the holidays, so I don’t want to increase the risk by loosening up to MGCQ,” Tiangco told The STAR.

Malabon Mayor Antolin Oreta III said the best way is to continue wearing face masks and observing physical distancing as well as avoiding large Christmas get-togethers.

“We are worried with the data after Christmas as I’m sure people will congregate and meet. On our part, the best is to remind everyone to wear a mask and physical distancing, especially in the presence of elders,” Oreta noted.

The Metro Manila mayors also agreed to ban caroling this Christmas due to studies that singing increases the risk of virus transmission.

Also, the number coding scheme and truck ban would remain suspended during the holidays to help business establishments recover from the pandemic and not hamper the delivery of basic goods.

“Only the enforcement of traffic and clearing of alternate routes like Mabuhay Lanes would continue,” said Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) general manager Jojo Garcia.

Garcia noted that vehicular traffic, even with the restrictions on, is back in the streets.

“The situation now is that (there is) traffic and more people are outside. Imagine if we downgrade it to MGCQ?” Garcia told The STAR.

In an interview with “The Chiefs” over the One News channel Wednesday, MMDA Edsa traffic chief Edison Nebrija said there are no specific policies to manage the Christmas rush, only to manage traffic “as it is” with no traffic restrictions in place to help jumpstart the economy.

“Before, we have number coding and truck ban but we are trying to help the economy, for business to spark the movement of the economy. Now there’s really no specific policy that will address the Christmas holidays. We are not talking about it right now. We will be managing the traffic as it is,” Nebrija said.

President Duterte is expected to announce the updated quarantine classifications on Nov. 30, according to his spokesman Harry Roque.

“The IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) will discuss the data this week… I was told that the President would have a talk to the people. The President will announce the change in classifications if there are any,” Roque said. – Alexis Romero, MarcJayson Cayabyab

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