COVID-19 Crisis: So-called stricter GCQ in NCR Plus begins today

Starting today until the 31st of May, the level of quarantine and restrictions in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the bordering provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal – these form NCR Plus – has been lowered to the softer general community quarantine (GCQ). The period of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) for NCR Plus (note: specific places outside of NCR Plus are still under MECQ) is over at last and the shift to GCQ was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

However, the GCQ this time around will have some more restrictions of its own. To put things in perspective, read the details from this excerpt from the Philippine News Agency’s (PNA) article. Some parts in bold…

Duterte decided to ease quarantine protocols in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, also known as “NCR Plus,” upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Presidential Spokesperson Roque, who was present during a meeting with Duterte at Malacañan Palace, said NCR Plus will be placed under GCQ “with heightened restrictions” from May 15 to 31.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Thursday, May 13, 2021, approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to place the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions from May 15 to 31, 2021,” Roque said in a statement.

Apart from NCR Plus, the quarantine classification in Abra was also downgraded from MECQ to GCQ.

Areas of concern

The MECQ status was, however, retained in the City of Santiago in Isabela, Zamboanga City, Quirino, and Ifugao.

Duterte said the four areas would remain under MECQ until end of May following local governments’ concerns over the spike in the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) within their localities.

GCQ is imposed in Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon, Iligan City, Davao City, Lanao del Sur, and Puerto Princesa City until May 31.

The rest of the country remains under the least restrictive modified GCQ (MGCQ) for the whole month of May.

Implementation of stricter GCQ

Once GCQ with heightened restrictions is implemented in NCR, only “essential travel into and out of the NCR Plus” will be allowed, Roque said.

Roque said interzonal travel from NCR Plus areas, except those conducted by Authorized Persons Outside Residence, will remain prohibited in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions.

“Public transportation shall remain operational at such capacities and protocols in accordance with the Department of Transportation guidelines while the use of active transportation shall be promoted,” he said.

Roque said only individuals aged 18 to 65 can leave their homes while NCR Plus is under stricter GCQ.

Entertainment venues like bars, concert halls, and theaters; recreational venues, such as internet cafes, billiards halls, and arcades; amusement parks, fairs, playgrounds, kiddie rides; indoor sports courts and venues and indoor tourist attractions; and venues for meetings, conferences, exhibitions will not be allowed in NCR Plus, Roque said.

Roque said religious gatherings and gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals for those who died of causes other than Covid-19 in NCR Plus will be allowed up to 10 percent of the venue capacity.

He added that indoor and outdoor dine-in services would be allowed in Metro Manila and its four neighboring provinces.

Also, indoor dine-in services in NCR Plus shall be at 20 percent venue or seating capacity while outdoor or al fresco dining shall be at 50 percent venue or seating capacity,” he said.

Roque said outdoor tourist attractions in NCR Plus may be opened at 30 percent, with “strict” adherence to minimum public health standards.

“Also continued to be allowed in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions are non-contact sports, games, scrimmages held outdoors; and personal care services that allow for services not requiring mask removal, such as salons, parlors, [and] beauty clinics, at 30 percent capacity,” he said.

While the GCQ is stricter than its previous form, it does allow more breathing room for businesses because they are essential on providing customers the products and services needed (or wanted), and it is the businesses who provide jobs for the unemployed. Businesses, not socialists, can lift people up from poverty and prevent their employees from falling into poverty. As I mentioned previously, the more Filipinos fall into poverty due to restricted economic activities (that result job losses), the more expensive it becomes for any government unit to provide relief to the constituents.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your impression about the so-called stricter GCQ for NCR Plus? Are the restrictions of the new GCQ disturbing to you? Does the new GCQ affect your plan to travel to the provinces?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

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