IATF should allow churches to open ASAP!
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Freeman) - June 2, 2020 - 12:00am

Finally, after nearly three months under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), we have shifted to general community quarantine (GCQ), which means that many businesses that were shut down during our lockdown period can now resume their operations for as long as they follow the guidelines under GCQ. The question is, would their customers return when they open up?

As reported in the news, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella issued Executive Or-der No. 79 last Sunday declaring the city under a state of GCQ effective 12:01 a.m. of June 1, 2020 until 11:59 p.m. of June 15, 2020 “or unless sooner lifted or withdrawn.” This declaration means minimum public health standard shall be complied with at all times, including wearing of masks in public and at work, good personal hygiene, and observance of social distancing, among others. Under Section 3 of the order, residents of the city are advised to stay home and may on-ly come out for essential goods and services, and for work in offices and indus-tries permitted to operate during the GCQ.

One thing that needs clarification is whether or not quarantine passes that the city government has issued are still required for those who wish to access es-sential goods and services. There are some sectors saying that this is no longer necessary. But what about our present quarantine passes? Please don’t tell me that everyone needs to get a new one when the old one could still be used. Meanwhile, it also says that exercising outdoors, like jogging and biking, are now allowed if people wear masks and stay two meters apart. This is really stupid! Don’t they know that jogging while wearing masks can cause heart failure? Masks like the N-95 should not be worn while exercising or jogging.

Anyway, I heard that certain churches already want to open, but the IATF rules only allow for 10 people inside. I recall that the IATF made this decision without the advice of any archdiocese so therefore it was improperly done. I mean, if shopping malls can accommodate hundreds if not thousands of people that are required to do social distancing, why can’t such setup be also allowed in our churches? If you allowed 50% of parishioners in the Basilica, it would mean a lot more people going to be accommodated while, at the same time, they would observe social distancing. I hope the Cebu Archdiocese do not follow the stupidi-ty of the IATF.

Meanwhile, all forms of public transportation in Cebu City should be allowed and exempted from the number coding scheme but with reduced operating capacity. I really don’t know whether or not the jeepney is allowed as LTFRB to decide. Meanwhile, all the time I thought that all the airlines would resume their opera-tions today. But, apparently, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) is thinking oth-erwise.

I just learned that the CAB has advised airline companies to cancel the resumption of their flights starting today. In an advisory dated May 30, CAB executive direc-tor Carmelo Arcilla disclosed that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging In-fectious Diseases has yet to approve the routes for domestic services proposed by airlines for the resumption of domestic operations this week. The CAB also or-dered airline companies to stop selling tickets for the period.

CAB’s Carmelo Arcilla apparently did not respond when sought for clarification on the advisory. CAB chief legal officer Wyrlou Samodio also declined to com-ment, but said, “We still have to wait (for) the decision of the IATF.” I would like to believe that the CAB’s decision came after Western Visayas officials asked the IATF to keep air and sea travel in the region closed beyond May 31 as a deterrent against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). But hey, it is already June and the IATF has to reconsider their decision right away!

I’ve been keeping tabs on what Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacif-ic Air (CPA) have been doing and learned that they are most prepared to meet their passenger in this new world order. When you board an airplane, chances are no one is allowed to sit in the middle seat. So why is the IATF scared of? I sug-gest that domestic flights should resume immediately because the Philippine economy is dependent upon this sector!

***

For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbob-ita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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