PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is considering declaring a “modified quarantine” in some areas of the country once the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) ends.
Addressing the nation on Monday night, Duterte said the government might “partially open” some industry sectors, such as construction, subject to health protocols.
“Malapit na. Iyong iba naka-lockdown pa rin. We might open partially — construction workers and things like that. You wait… lalabas na ‘yung modified quarantine (It’s imminent. Others remain on lockdown. We might open partially, construction works and things like that. You wait for the modified quarantine),” Duterte said in his speech aired over state-run PTV-4.
“So, we will allow sectors of the society that is not — hindi talaga nagdidikit-dikitan. Ang problema nito kung — kaya modified muna, eh (We will allow sectors of society that will observe physical distancing. It will be modified),” he added.
Duterte warned that the new coronavirus would spread if people would not observe physical distancing even under a modified quarantine scheme.
“Kasi kung magsiksikan kayo diyan sa LRT (Light Rail Transit) na naman, wala nang katapusan ang problema natin (Because if you will cram the LRT again, there will be no end to our problem). It will never end and it will bring us down and down,” he said.
Duterte, however, did not provide any specifics on the possible modification of the ECQ, which has been extended to until May 15 in Metro Manila, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Albay and Catanduanes.
‘New ECQ coverage’
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. on Tuesday said areas that would remain under the ECQ from May 1 to 15 now only include Metro Manila; Central Luzon, except the province of Aurora; Southern Tagalog Region (Calabarzon or Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Pangasinan province, Benguet province, Baguio City, Iloilo province, Cebu province, Cebu City and Davao City.
The updated list excluded Antique, Aklan, Capiz, Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro.
This means that these provinces, along with other areas not on the list, will be under general community quarantine (GQC) or the “new normal” where “minimum health standards” should still be observed, Roque said.
For GCQ areas, public transportation would resume at reduced capacity, some workers would be allowed to work, and some establishments would partially open but subject to minimum health standards.
Areas with high risk of Covid-19 transmissions such as Metro Manila and Central Luzon, however, would remain under strict confinement measures until May 15.
Roque said the Department of Trade and Industry recommended the reopening of several sectors in quarantine areas.
He said dental clinics, delivery services, equipment repair, laundry shops and mining were among the sectors recommended for reopening in areas under ECQ and GCQ.
Government offices, construction and projects in the Build, Build, Build program, barber shops, salons, clothing stores, manufacturing of beverages, cement, textile, as well as film and television production can be allowed to operate in GCQ areas.
Roque explained that Duterte’s remarks about an imminent “modified quarantine” were about the implementation of the GCQ in some areas.
He said the places under ECQ would eventually move towards GCQ if there would be fewer cases of infections and their healthcare facilities were capable of providing services.
“So nagkakaroon ng malalaking pagbabago kasi lahat tayo nasa ECQ at come May 15 magkakaroon ng decision kung ‘yung mga nasa ECQ ay magiging GCQ na rin (There will really be big changes because we are now on ECQ and come May 15, there will be a decision if those under ECQ will also be placed under GCQ),” he added.
National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Karl Chua said certain sections of malls could be allowed to open under GCQ.
“There are 865 malls in the country and these are like mini economies. You can do everything you want except sleep so we suggest that under the GCQ, supermarkets, drugstores, banks, laundry, restaurants for takeout and deliveries, and hardware will be allowed to open,” he said.
Chua said only those aged 21 to 59 with ID and not looking sickly will be allowed to enter malls.
Mandatory temperature check, wearing of masks, and alcohol use will also be implemented.
In his speech on Monday, the President urged owners of malls, bazaars, and other shopping centers to ensure the health and safety of their workers once the GCQ or the “new normal” starts on May 1.
“The sanitation of the place must be guaranteed and that the employees are provided with durable and workable masks,” he said.
As of Tuesday, the Philippines had 7,958 Covid cases. The number of recoveries rose to 975 while the death toll increased to 530, according to the Department of Health.
WITH ANNA LEAH GONZALES AND JOHN ERIC MENDOZA