Metro Manila shifts to GCQ

THE National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila will shift to the less restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ) from September 8 to 30.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said on Monday President Rodrigo Duterte approved the shift “in principle” together with the pilot-testing of the granular lockdown concept in the metropolis.

Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is expected to release the guidelines for a granular lockdown today, September 7, “at the latest.”

“What I can say as of now is in granular lockdowns, governors and mayors have the power to decide although their decision could be reversed by the IATF-EID,” Roque said.

The national government will provide aid and shoulder the meals of residents in locked-down areas.

Roque noted the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) failed to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 cases in NCR, which was why experts pushed for “systematic and scientific lockdowns.”

While Metro Manila is in a less strict quarantine, there will be more restrictions on the movement of people including authorized persons outside of their residences.

“Tingnan po natin kung mas epektibo nga [ito] (We’ll see if this is more effective) If it proves to be more successful, then we will implement it,” he said.

Metro Manila, which has been classified as a Covid high-risk area, remains in modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until Tuesday.

Areas in MECQ from September 8 to 30 are Apayao, Bataan, Bulacan, Cavite, Lucena City, Rizal, Laguna, Iloilo province, Iloilo City, Cagayan de Oro City.

Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Quezon, Batangas, Naga City, Antique, Bacolod City, Capiz City, Cebu province, Lapu-Lapu City, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, Davao Occidental and Butuan City will be in GCQ “with heightened restrictions.”

Baguio City, Kalinga, Abra, Benguet, Dagupan City, City of Santiago, Quirino, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Tarlac, Occidental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa, Aklan, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga City and Zamboanga del Norte will also shift down to GCQ.

The same quarantine restrictions will be enforced in Misamis Occidental, Iligan City, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Cotabato City and Lanao del Sur.

The rest of the country will be in modified general community quarantine.

Also on Monday, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said he has directed all Metro Manila police commanders to prepare to implement granular lockdowns.

“The implementation of a granular lockdown is a solution viewed by our government that could balance the reopening of our economy and contain the spread of Covid-19. The PNP supports this,” he said in a statement.

Eleazar said based on available data, 51 barangay (villages) in the capital region are already under granular lockdown.

With Dempsey Reyes

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