COVID-19 Crisis: National Capital Region (NCR) and 4 nearby provinces now under GCQ until April 4, 2021

It is all over the news and already a lot of people got affected specifically in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. This past Sunday, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) issued a new resolution (Resolution #104) in response to the spike of COVID-19 cases in the country. There was a single-day high of 7,999 new COVID-19 cases reported recently followed by blaming the government and economic managers.

Firstly, there is no lockdown which is good news. This is about retaining the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status for NCR while the four nearby provinces have fallen under the same status.

To put things in perspective, posted below are excerpts from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) report…

Excerpt 1

Under IATF Resolution No. 104, he said only essential travel into and out of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal will be allowed.

Excerpt 2

Traveling into and out of Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal will be prohibited. We will have a sort of bubble in NCR, and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal,” he said.

Travel of authorized persons outside their residences (APORs) such as essential workers, health and emergency frontline services personnel; government officials and government frontline personnel; duly-authorized humanitarian assistance actors; persons traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons; persons going to the airport for travel abroad, returning overseas Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be unimpeded for as long as they show their respective work identification cards.

Individuals crossing zones for work or business and going back home will also be allowed to travel to and from the said areas.

“Kung kayo ay uuwi, essential travel po ‘yun. Kailangan lang magpakita ng ID kung saan ka talaga nakatira (If you’re going back home that’s essential travel. All you need to do is show your ID to prove that you live there),” he said.

Excerpt 3

Public gatherings limited

All public gatherings, including religious gatherings, will be prohibited but weddings, baptism, and funerals will be allowed but must observe a 10-person venue capacity.

Current operational capacities of essential and non-essential services and industries will remain.

However, face-to-face meetings, group meals in workplaces will be prohibited. Instead, work-from-home and virtual meetings are encouraged.

Roque said the IATF resolution also enjoins the private sector to adopt similar alternative working arrangements as those in place in the executive branch of government such as operating on a 30 to 50 capacity.

Only outdoor dining allowed

As for dining, Roque said only outdoor dining will be allowed in areas under GCQ while indoor dining will be strictly prohibited.

“Pagdating po sa mga restaurants, ang papayagan lang po yung mga outdoor dining (When it comes to restaurants, we will only allow those with outdoor dining),” he said.

Outdoor dining must observe a maximum of 50 percent venue capacity.

Take out and delivery is encouraged, he added.

Wear masks at home

Although the economy will stay open, Roque said the IATF resolution will require persons below 18-years-old and above 65-years-old, those with comorbidities, and pregnant women to remain inside their residences at all times.

The IATF resolution also advises the wearing of face mask at home especially when living with elderly and vulnerable.

Accepting of visitors outside immediate family or household is strongly discouraged.

Operations of driving schools, traditional cinemas and video and interactive game arcades, libraries, archives, museums, and cultural centers, limited social events at accredited tourism establishments and limited tourism attractions will be temporarily suspended except open-air tourism attractions.

Before the IATF’s new resolution was issued, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) went ahead in shortening the hours of voter registration as well as suspending the organizing of satellite registration (registration processes held outside of their office) which started yesterday. People around the Philippines have until the end September 2021 to register themselves or adjust their respective voter statuses in preparation of the May 2022 presidential, national and local elections.

For their part, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced yesterday that it would yield to public health concerns in relation to the GCQ status for NCR and the 4 nearby provinces.

With regards to the IATF’s prohibition on indoor dining, already the shopping malls and restaurants here in South Metro Manila have made adjustments and updated their customers. Sigekiya Ramen announced that their restaurant at Commercenter, Filinvest City in Alabang, is still allowed to accommodate paying customers for outdoor dining. Like many others, they also offer takeout and delivery services. Alabang Town Center and Festival Mall in Alabang posted updates about safety protocols in accordance to IATF Resolution #104.

With all these developments in place, people in the NCR and the affected provinces under GCQ will have to adjust. It is okay to keep reporting to work but there is a need to be cautious with regards to personal safety and avoiding COVID-19 infection as much as possible. There is also the need to prioritize where to go and what to do. All of these are in effect until April 4, 2021 and here is hoping that the current situation will improve (that the daily COVID-19 count of new cases will go down) so that the new round of restrictions under GCQ will not be extended.

Better yet, I encourage you all to look up to our Lord Jesus and keep having unwavering faith in Him. I also encourage you all to read chapter 91 of the Book of Psalm in the Holy Bible and pray in tongues to our Lord in the privacy in your respective rooms (with the door shut closed). Open your heart to the Lord, always.


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