A lot of people were very surprised yesterday with the sudden announcement that Metro Manila will be placed under the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status effective August 1 until August 20, 2021 supposedly in connection to the rising spread of the highly infectious Delta variant (Parañaque and Las Piñas each have one) and COVID-19 cases in general. It is surprising because very recently it was announced that the National Capital Region (which Metro Manila is clearly part of) would be placed under the strict form of general community quarantine (GCQ) from August 1 to 15, 2021.
Take note that the Metro Manila mayors favored ECQ and even set terms that include the national government will provide financial assistance to their respective constituents plus millions of vaccines.
To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) article about the sudden ECQ announcement. Some parts in boldface…
Metro Manila will be placed under the most restrictive enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20, Malacañang said on Friday.
This, after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) recommendation to impose the strict quarantine classification in Metro Manila.
In an announcement aired over state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Metro Manila will stay under general community quarantine (GCQ) “with heightened restrictions” from July 30 to August 5 and will shift to ECQ from August 6 to 20.
“Hindi po naging madali ang desisyon na ito. Maraming oras ang ginugol para pagdebatehan ang bagay na ito (It is not an easy decision. We have spent so much time to debate on the proposal [to place Metro Manila under ECQ]),” Roque said.
Metro Manila is currently under GCQ with heightened restrictions. Its quarantine status was supposed to be extended until August 15.
However, Metro Manila mayors have urged the IATF-EID to implement a two-week ECQ in the country’s metropolis to prevent the spread of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant.
Roque said “additional restrictions” would be imposed in Metro Manila from July 30 to August 5.
“The heightened restrictions for NCR are more stringent compared to the GCQ with heightened restrictions of other areas,” he said in a press statement.
Roque said indoor dine-in services and al fresco dining are prohibited and only take-out and delivery are allowed in Metro Manila.
“For people working in these establishments, operations are allowed to continue and finish within the day,” he said.
Personal care services like beauty salons, beauty parlors, barber shops and nail spas may operate up to 30 percent of venue or seating capacity, Roque said.
He added that indoor sports courts and venues and indoor tourist attractions and specialized markets of the Department of Tourism (DOT) may not operate, while outdoor tourist attractions, as may be defined by the DOT, will be allowed at 30 percent venue capacity.
Roque said only Authorized Persons Outside their Residences will be allowed to travel “into and out” of NCR Plus, which is composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.
Only virtual religious gatherings shall be allowed. Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals for those who died of causes other than Covid-19 shall be allowed, provided they are limited to immediate family members, he said.
Avoid panic buying
Following the government’s decision to implement ECQ in Metro Manila from August 6 to 20, Roque reminded the public not to resort to panic buying.
“Meron naman tayong isang linggo para mag-prepara dito sa two weeks na ECQ. Wala pong dahilan para mag panic buying dahil maski ECQ po, bukas naman po ang ating mga groceries (We still have one week to prepare for the two-week implementation of ECQ. There’s no reason for panic buying because despite the ECQ implementation, groceries are still open),” he said.
Apart from Metro Manila, Iloilo province and its city, Cagayan de Oro City, and the City of Gingoog in Misamis Oriental have also been placed under ECQ from July 21 to August 7.
On Tuesday, Roque announced that individuals residing in Iloilo province and its city, as well as the cities of Cagayan de Oro City and Gingoog, will receive cash assistance worth PHP1,000 per individual or PHP4,000 per family.
When quizzed if Metro Manila residents would also be given financial aid, Roque said: “Most likely but will seek confirmation.”
And here are related news videos to watch…
Economic damage and losses very likely
While it is understandable that ECQ is a response to the Delta variant and COVID-19 problems, it is very clear that this will result more financial losses on businesses and damage the nation’s economy which itself has been struggling to stand up and grow. Take note that the more businesses lose money, it could lead to job losses and result in lower tax collection on the part of the national government and LGUs. For insight, posted below is an excerpt from another PNA article published before the ECQ announcement. Some parts in boldface…
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for approving the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to put Metro Manila and nearby provinces under general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions.
“The economy cannot bear another massive lockdown. We lose around PHP30 billion for a two-week lockdown. Many lost their jobs, livelihood, most of them are micro (and) SMEs (small and medium enterprises),” Lopez said during the Laging Handa public briefing Thursday.
He said the recommendation of placing National Capital Region (NCR) Plus under GCQ with heightened restrictions is in accordance with the IATF’s consultations with reliable health experts.
“We really take a balance, a holistic approach,” he added.
Lopez underscored that the IATF enforces restrictions amid the threats of the more infectious Covid-19 Delta variant.
But the restrictions are focused on ‘super spreader’ activities like mass gatherings, while lockdowns will remain a granular lockdown approach, the DTI chief said.
He also called on businesses to create their own health and safety committee that will ensure minimum public health protocols are being monitored and maintained in their respective establishments.
COVID-19 vaccination operations will still continue
Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccination operations will still proceed during the ECQ period. Check out this excerpt from the GMA Network news report below…
Malacañang said the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program will proceed in Metro Manila even if the region will be under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20.
“Yes, definitely [it will proceed]. Details will be provided in due course of the COVID-19 vaccination committee,” Roque said.
Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you surprised about the sudden announcement of ECQ for Metro Manila? Do you believe that the Metro Manila Council (MMC) is correct that the national government should provide the financial aid and vaccines for their respective constituents? Could it be possible that certain city governments or LGUs (local government units) of Metro Manila have ran out of funds and have no choice but to rely on the national government to provide for them?
If you are a business owner within Metro Manila, do you believe that August 6 is too early for the imposition of another ECQ? Do you think that the Metro Manila mayors spent enough time researching about the potential economic damage of the ECQ they pushed for?
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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