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COVID-19 task force: NCR granular lockdowns deferred due to unfinished guidelines

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COVID-19 task force: NCR granular lockdowns deferred due to unfinished guidelines
Authorities monitor Brgy. 177 in Caloocan City which is placed under granular lockdown due to COVID-19 cases on Sept. 6, 2021.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The government walked back at the last minute its implementation of granular lockdowns in Metro Manila largely because of unfinished guidelines on these curbs, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said Wednesday.

The shift to granular lockdowns was announced Monday although there had been talk over the weekend of a plan to focus on smaller-scale lockdowns covering specific houses, streets and villages.

“‘Yung ating pong guidelines na inaantay ay hindi pa po handa at hindi pa po naipapamahagi sa lahat ng magi-implement,” NTF-COVID-19 spokesperson Restituto Padilla said in a briefing on state TV.

(The guidelines that we are waiting for are not yet ready and haven’t been disseminated to all those who would implement it.)

Padilla added that Metro Manila mayors and other stakeholders had questions regarding the implementation of granular lockdowns which are still being addressed as the government expands the guidelines.

He also said that they are heeding calls from health workers to extend the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine over the capital region for two more weeks as the country experiences its worst surge of coronavirus infections so far.

Malacañang said Monday that the capital region will shift to the laxer general community quarantine with granular lockdowns by September 8, only for it to take this announcement back on the eve of its supposed implementation date, causing losses for some businesses which have been preparing to reopen.

“Dear government maawa naman kayo sa mga taong sobrang naapektuhan na nagta-trabaho ng maayos!” said Inchang Mendoza, an owner of a samgyupsal restaurant, who has bought hundreds of kilos of pork, chicken and beef in preparation for the supposed relaxation of coronavirus curbs.

(Dear government, please take pity on the people who are badly affected) 

In a related statement, Akbayan party-list said the government should compensate small businesses affected by changing decisions on quarantine classifications.

"The [Inter-Agency Task Force] must reimburse small businesses that incurred losses due to its ‘laban-bawi’ quarantine protocols. This kind of negligence and thoughtlessness from the government hurts everyone, especially small enterprises and their workers who are trying their best to survive despite the pandemic," party-list nominee Perci Cendaña said.

But Padilla said the public should instead look at the government’s abrupt backtracking on crucial pandemic policies positively.

"Let’s look at it in a positive light,” he said in Filipino. “Maybe next time, as a lesson learned by the government, we would need to prepare all the guidelines before announcing it." — Xave Gregorio

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