Cebu News

'No vax, no entry' rule in Cebu City not imposed in churches

Mary Ruth R. Malinao - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Cebu City has clarified that it is not imposing a “no vaccination, no entry” in churches.

“Kami sa the EOC and the Archdiocese of Cebu, wala mi problema. Kung unsay ilang concern, mo-act mi, kung unsay among concern, mo-act sila. So far, church is very helpful. But wala mi nag-impose ana,” said EOC chief deputy implementer City Councilor Joel Garganera.

However, Garganera said they have received some proposed guidelines from the Basilica del Sto. Nino regarding the holding of the masses, particularly allowing on fully vaccinated volunteers and workers to serve during the proceedings.

Garganera asked church leaders to help encourage churchgoers to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We seek the assistance of the priests to encourage churchgoers to get vaccinated as well. Again, we are not requiring priests and churchgoers to do it (prevent entry of non-vaccinated faithful). We cannot impose that. We have imposed some protocols, but we never reached that,” said Garganera.

‘Bakuna bubble effective’

What the city has imposed, so far, is to allow entry to closed spaces, including restaurants, for vaccinated individuals. This policy has come to be known as “Bakuna Bubble.”

Garganera has noted that establishments allowed to operate in the city while under general community quarantine (GCQ) are, so far, compliant.

“It's been like a week na man gikan September 8. Pila pa man ka adlaw. So far, maayo baya. You know why? Because that proposal comes from the business sector. It comes from them,” he said.

“Pila pa ka percentage sa atong population ang na-vaccinate nya pila sad ka percentage ang ilang (business sector) ma-accommodate. But they're willing to go into that direction because it’s the safe way to go,” he added.

Garganera said in the three surges the city had experienced, the approach was the same — implementation of lockdown, granular lockdown, absence of public transportation, among others.

He said the city government used the same pattern in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, which greatly affected the establishments as there were times when businesses would be closed for a period due to a stricter quarantine measure.

With this, he said, a series of interruptions occurs and “this is not conducive in navigating this pandemic.”

“Whether we like it or not, COVID will be around. So they (business sector) resorted to endorse that kind of arrangement so mao ni siya ang bubble nila,” said Garganera.

Garganera said since this initiative requires workers to be fully vaccinated; thus, one way also to protect them is to only allow vaccinated customers inside an establishment.

Per EO 142, food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries can now implement indoor dine services at 30 percent capacity and for COVID-19 vaccinated customers only.

Still, outdoor dine-in services (al fresco) are allowed at 50 percent capacity.

Personal care services limited to beauty salons, barbershops, beauty parlors, massage parlors, and nail spas are limited to 30 percent of the venue capacity and for COVID-19 vaccinated customers only.

Garganera said some establishments would also deploy vehicles to ferry their workers from the establishments to their respective homes to ensure their safety.

“On top of that, naa pud silay series of testing just to preserve the standard sa ilang kompanya,” he said.

Cebu City has been regarded by the National Capital Region (NCR) locals as a model in the opening up of the economy because of its implementation of the Bakuna Bubble.

Garganera urged the national government to let the local government units to be innovative in addressing the current pandemic. — Caecent N. Magsumbol, JMD (FREEMAN)

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