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.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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

COVID-19 Crisis: P405.6-billion Bayanihan 3 approved by House panel

In an attempt to boost economic recovery for the nation from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 (China Virus) pandemic, a panel of the House of Representatives approved yesterday the Bayanihan 3 (Bayanihan to Arise as One Act) stimulus package which is worth P405.6 billion.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) report. Some parts in bold…

The House Ways and Means Committee approved the substitute bill to the third Bayanihan measure, which would contain direct emergency and social amelioration to Filipinos, livelihood interventions, as well as food security and health interventions.

The bill seeks to provide funding of PHP108 billion for the implementation of a cash subsidy program of PHP1,000 for every Filipino, with another PHP108 billion in standby funds.

Around PHP12 billion shall be appropriated for Phase 1 of assistance for households in crisis situations under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Some PHP12 billion shall be appropriated for Phase 2 and PHP6 billion for Phase 3 of the AICS program.

To assist micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program shall be continued and expanded with direct funding of PHP8 billion, and stand-by funds worth PHP8 billion for Phase 2 and PHP4 billion for Phase 3.

To provide temporary employment to displaced workers, around PHP10 billion shall be appropriated for the implementation of the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD), Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), and Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) Program, while PHP10 billion shall be appropriated as stand-by funds for Phase 2 and PHP5 billion for Phase 3.

Assistance to the agri-fishery sector will receive a total of PHP30 billion worth of standby funds to finance programs and interventions toward food security and farmer income security and welfare.

The bill allocates PHP3 billion for medical assistance for indigent patients, and stand-by funds worth PHP3 billion each for Phases 2 and 3.

A total of PHP54.6 billion shall be allocated to the Pension and Gratuity Fund for retired military and the police, while the amount of PHP5.6 billion shall be appropriated to assist the Department of Education in the implementation of its digital education, information technology, and digital infrastructure and alternative learning modalities as part of the pandemic response and transition to a new normal.

At more than P400 billion proposed, definitely a lot of people (including the owners of struggling MSMEs) as well as government departments will be assisted. While this news is good to hear and read, it still has to be passed first through the lower and upper chambers of Congress before finally reaching the President for approval.

How fast will this proposal get cleared? We will find out soon.

Let me ask you readers – are you a potential beneficiary of the proposed Bayanihan 3 stimulus package? Do you believe that P405.6 billion is good enough to help our nation’s economic recovery? You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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

COVID-19 Crisis: MECQ for NCR Plus extended until May 14, 2021

After weeks of anticipation by the public, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the other night the extension of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until May 14, 2021 for the National Capital Region (NCR) plus the bordering provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. In connection to this, Duterte apologized.

To put things about the extended MECQ in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) article. Some parts in bold…

“Modified enhanced community quarantine. Modified ito so medyo strict. NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal (Modified enhanced community quarantine – modified, meaning somehow strict – will be imposed in NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal),” Duterte said in his talk to the people.

MECQ will be implemented in NCR Plus, composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, MECQ until May 14, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a separate press statement.

Quirino and Abra provinces, as well as the City of Santiago in Isabela, will also stay under MECQ for the whole month of May, Duterte said.

On the other hand, the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) will be imposed in Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur from May 1 to 31.

The rest of the country will remain under the least restrictive modified GCQ (MGCQ).

Roque said the latest quarantine status is still “subject to the appeals of local government units.”

The government is targeting to lower health care and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rates to ease the quarantine protocols in the country amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

In recent times, the daily count of new COVID-19 cases in the Philippines fell below 10,000. It was reported the other day that the new COVID-19 cases was at 6,895 nationwide. Still the nation has over 1,000,000 COVID-19 cases grand total (including recoveries) and the secured vaccines cannot arrive fast enough from overseas. Also, it will take a lot of time before the local production of vaccines will become a reality in the nation.

Apart from public health, more attention should be paid on the economy which has been set back a lot since the latest ECQ (enhanced community quarantine). The current MECQ meanwhile resulted 13% of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to stay closed specifically in the NCR Plus zone.

More on the economy, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez is pushing to help the economy by recommending a flexible MECQ in NCR Plus with gradual reopening of labor-intensive sectors in mind.

For perspective, posted below is an excerpt for the Philippine News Agency article. Some parts in bold…

In a radio interview Thursday, Lopez said the agency is eyeing to reopen personal care services with a limited capacity of 20 to 30 percent as well as dine-in services in food establishments by 10 to 20 percent.

“Ni-recommend ho kasi naming ‘yong MECQ with flexibility. We are just after sa pagbabalik ng trabaho, pero yung higpit naman ng mobility ay nandoon pa rin. Ang importante lang ay itong trabaho. We’re talking about opening the sectors na sarado pa rin (We recommended the MECQ with flexibility. We are just after bringing back jobs, but the strict mobility will still be there. What’s important is the jobs. We’re talking about opening the sectors that are still closed),” he said.

He added that the gradual reopening of the personal care and dine-in services was “partially discussed” with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“Iko-confirm na lang mamaya sa IATF kung ilang porsyento [The IATF will confirm later the percentage (of capacity)],” Lopez said.

An estimated 200,000 workers in personal care services and 1 million fast-food and restaurant crews were affected during the stricter community quarantine measures in National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal and about PHP60 billion worth of wages were lost during the two-week MECQ, Lopez said.

The current MECQ also shed PHP120 billion in gross domestic product, on top of the PHP180-billion economic losses during the two-week ECQ.

While it is essential for people and organizations to follow health protocols and avoid COVID-19 infections, the same goes with the economy. So many have been suffering from the lack of jobs, the loss of income and, in the case of businesses, the loss of customers and clients. Being in the private sector myself, I definitely want more businesses of any size to reopen, make money, hire the unemployed and contribute to the development of local society. I want to see the personal care services to resume operations, as well as the return of indoor dining for restaurants and cafes. I also want to see more of my fellow Filipinos to stay above poverty and rise higher. That being said, I say that capitalism is the way to go and the real way to restore prosperity for the Philippines even as we face varied challenges daily during this COVID-19 (China Virus) crisis.

From this point on, I encourage you to keep observing the moves of not only the national authorities but also those in your local government, your barangay and other organizations serving you. Pray that the public servants and community leaders will look up to the Lord and acknowledge His authority over them. Pray for the leaders to look up to God. Finally, no matter how good or bad your situation is, keep having strong faith in our Lord. If you are hurting and you need healing, come to Lord Jesus (read Mark 5:25-34 in the Holy Bible).

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

COVID-19 Crisis: Philippines to become a new producer of vaccines?

Very recently, the national authorities announced that the grand total of COVID-19 (China Virus) cases in the Philippines had surpassed the 1 million mark, landing at 1,006,428 cases. There will be many millions of new vaccines coming into the country but they just could not come in fast enough.

In recent times, the national government started making a move to become a new player in the production of new vaccines for coronavirus according to National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. He added that this would ensure a steady supply of vaccines not only for this current crisis but also for future health crises.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the story published through Philippine News Agency (PNA). Some parts in bold…

“We are working on building the country’s vaccine sufficiency, particularly our capacity to manufacture and produce our own vaccines not just to address Covid-19 health crisis, but also to prepare for any future pandemic,” Galvez said at a virtual Economic Development Cluster and Infrastructure Cluster forum for the Pre-State of the Nation Address on Monday.

The Philippines is hoping to replicate the Serum Institute of India (SII), India’s largest vaccine producer which produces the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, known in India as Covishield.

Galvez earlier visited India to negotiate with SII for the acquisition of 30 million doses of the Novavax vaccine.

One of the topics tackled during the trip was the possibility to develop local production of vaccines in the Philippines.

“One of our agenda during our trip to India last month was to look into opportunities that will allow us to build on the same vaccine and medicine manufacturing capacity that India has,” Galvez said.

He said he had met with the Department of Science and Technology Sec. Fortunato de la Peña and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez along with the country’s vaccine experts to discuss the plan to establish local vaccine production.

The government targets “to encourage foreign vaccine manufacturers to establish domestic operations” on vaccine production in the Philippines, he said.

“We will achieve vaccine security and partner with domestic and international private pharmaceutical companies in developing our own capability in manufacturing vaccines domestically,” he added. “For 2023, we envision for self-sufficiency and readiness for the pandemic and other disasters with the modernization and integration of our healthcare system.”

With the ongoing negotiations of the Philippines for equitable vaccine acquisition, Galvez said the government has earmarked a total of PHP82.5 billion for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, of which PHP70 billion have been sourced out from various multilateral loans and assumed savings.

As seen above, the Philippines looked to the largest vaccine maker in India as a model for their plan. If vaccine production does push through in the country in the near future, it should create some new jobs and contribute somewhat to the economy. How much would vaccines cost when made here in the Philippines remains to be seen. The same also with how the national government will convince vaccine makers overseas to establish production lines in the country.

Meanwhile, I encourage you my readers to check out how much progress Israel has achieved with regards to combatting COVID-19, normalizing the lives of their people and setting the stage for an economic rebound. In relation to these details, the Jewish State will reopen its borders to foreign visitors who have already been vaccinated. This means visiting the Holy Land is possible once again for all those who seek the Lord. Israel is a bright example for the world and they deserve a lot of praise. Their success was acknowledged by veteran writer Boo Chanco.

Now if only the vaccines the national government paid for will somehow arrive as fast as possible. The Philippines still has a long way to go before achieving herd immunity and having both society and economy rebound at last from the COVID-19 crisis.

By the way, if you are a resident of Las Piñas City or Muntinlupa City, you can get yourselves registered for COVID-19 vaccines by reading the instructions and details here (Las Piñas) and here (Muntinlupa).

If you have something to say about the current situation of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, or within your city or local community, you may contact me directly online or comment below.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

COVID-19 Crisis: The high cost of ECQ on the Philippine economy

You must be wondering how much of a price did the nation pay as a result of the 2-week ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) ordered on NCR Plus (National Capital Region plus the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal).

The answer? P180 billion in terms of economic losses according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) accounting for 1% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) article of April 15, 2021. Some parts in bold…

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has estimated that the country lost 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) during the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in National Capital Region (NCR) and four nearby provinces.

During the Laging Handa public briefing Thursday, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the economic loss due to the half-a-month ECQ in NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal (NCR Plus) is equivalent to PHP180 billion.

Earlier, Lopez said around 1.5 million Filipinos had no jobs during the ECQ in NCR Plus, and only 500,000 jobs were brought back when the quarantine classification for areas was downgraded to a less strict modified ECQ (MECQ).

“We want to see lower Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases and lower utilization rate of (Covid-19 beds) before we ease the status to GCQ (general community quarantine),” he said in Filipino.

The DTI chief also downplayed speculation that the reopening of economic activities and business establishments became the ‘super spreader’ of Covid-19.

To manage the rate of infection of the coronavirus, Lopez said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will not allow high-risk and non-essential activities and gatherings.

He added the government must slow down the daily Covid-19 cases while increasing the health care capacity to relax community quarantine status in the NCR Plus.

Clearly, the 2-week ECQ period on NCR Plus was damaging not only to the businesses and people of the affected region but on the Philippine economy as well. What we cannot see yet is exactly how many more people – specifically those who lost jobs in NCR Plus because of ECQ – fell into poverty. Take note that the more people fall into poverty, the more costly it becomes for the local government units (LGUs) and the nation government to provide support to them using taxpayers’ money.

As it has been a week since NCR Plus shifted to MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine), we will find out soon how much the region and the national economy recovered from the high cost of ECQ.

If you do the math, a single week of ECQ on NCR Plus costs P90 billion. Can you just imagine the dramatic cost to the nation had ECQ went on for a full year of 52 weeks? Do not forget that all the unemployed bad need jobs and income.

Right now, the national government and varied forms of governing units are still struggling to balance themselves between economics and public health during this COVID-19 (China virus) pandemic that has lasted over a year now. No matter how you do your business, how you make your important transactions, follow the health protocols to avoid getting infected with the China virus.

By the way, whenever possible, support the business joints in your local community whenever you need to buy or consume something. By the way, never let the Political Left fool you with their propaganda related to economy and the pandemic.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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

500 LGUs reminded to automate biz one-stop shop this year

Are you a business owner who recently struggled with the processes at your local government unit (LGU) because their electronic Business One-Stop Shop (e-BOSS) did not function properly and proved to be inefficient? Perhaps they did not have an e-BOSS?

Here are some good news – a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) was approved yesterday designed to ensure that the e-BOSS systems of LGUs get automated this year.

To put things in perspective, e-BOSS uses the Electronic Business Permitting and Licensing System or eBPLS developed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology allowing the public to perform government transactions online. e-BOSS targets to fully automate transactions in LGUs from downloading of forms, using e-signature, up to online payment.

By comparison, the old system BOSS is defined as a single-window system that streamlines application forms and submission of documents in government offices in one window only.

Going back to the news related to the JCM, below is an excerpt from the news release published through Philippine News Agency (PNA). Some parts are in bold to highlight importance of details.

Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) director general Jeremiah Belgica targets to have at least 500 local government units (LGUs) rolling out the electronic Business One-Stop Shop (e-BOSS) by end-2021.

During the virtual signing ceremony of the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 01-2021 Tuesday, ARTA reminded LGUs that they should have automated their BOSS before June 17 this year.

The JMC establishes the guidelines for processing business permits, related clearances, and licenses in all cities and municipalities.

“Hopefully by the end of the year, we will have 500 LGUs already automated by DICT’s (Department of Information and Communications Technology) IBPLS (Integrated Business Permits and Licensing System) software,” Belgica said.

DICT project manager for IBPLS Del Basada said the department has signed memoranda of agreement with 446 LGUs, of which more than 200 LGUs are already in the operational stage of the system.

“(We are) just making sure that everyone’s (is) onboard for IBPLS which is an online system. We look at their readiness first if they can adopt the system,” Basada said, adding the DICT is assisting LGUs in addressing challenges to do online transactions.

Meanwhile, Belgica said while the IBPLS software works well even with smaller LGUs, he urged highly urbanized cities to fast-track adopting the integrated system so they can go online for their BOSS before the June 17 deadline.

“We are encouraging the highly urbanized cities to actually automate the soonest because they have the most number of businesses,” he added.

Under the newly signed JMC, the e-BOSS should have the following functions: accepting electronic submission of application; electronic issuance of tax bill or order of payment; accepting online payment, releasing of electronic version of permits, licenses, and clearances; and providing gateway facility linked to courier service where applicant prefers hard copy of the documents.

The JMC also limits the documentary requirements and will implement a unified application form with a unique identification number.

ARTA reminds LGUs that they should not require notarization of the requirements.

It added barangay clearances related to business permit applications shall be integrated and processed by the Business Processing and Licensing Office. Number of signatories in the documents shall be limited to three.

So there you have it! An official document made it final that local government units should have the e-BOSS automated and functioning with the expected efficiency, transparency and results fulfilled. Given the fact that we are all still living under the pandemic of the China Virus (COVID-19), this latest development is indeed crucial and improvements on the part of LGUs should happen this year.

If you are a business owner who struggled with the processes at your local government and you wish to speak out, please post in the comments below. You can also send to me a private message.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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

COVID-19 Crisis: DTI says restaurants in MECQ areas are allowed to have outdoor dining

In what is clearly a move with economic recovery in mind, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez declared that restaurants (located in places under MECQ or modified enhanced community quarantine status) with outdoor dining services and set-ups are allowed to resume but with certain limitations.

To make things clear, below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) article which was published just yesterday. For greater emphasis, some parts are in bold.

In a text message to reporters Sunday night, Lopez said food establishments with alfresco dining services are only allowed up to 50 percent capacity, with diagonal seating arrangement and acrylic dividers on tables.

He added that indoor dine-in services are still not allowed in areas under MECQ, but food establishments can continue to operate with their take-out and delivery services.

From April 12 to 30, the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal or the NCR Plus as well as Santiago City in Isabela, and the provinces of Quirino and Abra were also placed under MECQ.

Earlier, the DTI chief said that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) might be sensitive in allowing indoor dine-in due to the highly contagious new variants of Covid-19.

“The IATF recommended to the President to shift to MECQ after two weeks of ECQ to restore more jobs and livelihood for the people,” Lopez said.

Clearly the local authorities are trying hard to balance themselves between economics and public health as new cases of COVID-19 (China Virus) continue to be counted in very high numbers on a daily basis in recent times. On April 2, the count of infections reached over 15,000.

Going back to the issue of allowing restaurants with outdoor dining (AKA alfresco) within the MECQ areas, it is good news that they are allowed to resume operations. It will still be a challenge for food establishments to attract enough paying customers and make their business’ financial ends meet.

On a personal experience, I love eating ramen and Tsukemen at Sigekiya Ramen in Alabang. I prefer that such meals would be cooked by the restaurant and be served to me at a table at their place. The alternative of taking the cooked ramen out and consume it at home is just not a convincing option for me because ramen is meant to be consumed quickly while it is hot. The alternative of taking home ingredients and noodles, and have them cooked at home does not appeal to me as I prefer Sigekiya’s cooks make the meal I paid for.

A delicious meal like this one is best to be eaten at the restaurant, even outdoors.

Also located in Alabang is the local branch of Akrotiri, a really fine restaurant that serves authentic Greek meals that my family and friends enjoyed. They also have meals that, in my opinion, are best consumed at their place and their Alabang branch (Commercenter to be precise) has space for outdoor dining. It was at Akrotiri Alabang where I treated 2019 SEA Games gold medalist Kim Mangrobang to a meal and organized an exclusive interview with her. They really have a fine-looking place. Visit their website at https://akrotiri.ph/

It is important to keep in mind that restaurants around the nation have struggled a lot since the pandemic started last year. These business establishments are also struggling with retaining their respective employees, notably their cooks, the baristas, waiters and waitresses. Remember that the meals and drinks you enjoy would not be the same when the people who prepared them get laid off.

With the DTI’s declaration of allowing food establishments with outdoor dining setups and services to resume, I encourage you my readers to consider supporting these businesses for your food and beverage needs. If you can’t have a meal with the family outdoors, perhaps you can push through with a business meeting with a corporate associate or reunite with your friend or relative with the outdoor setting of a restaurant while adhering to health protocols (wearing face masks, face shields, sanitizing yourselves, etc.). 

Now, let’s observe how the mayors, the barangay captains and other local authorities in MECQ areas will react to DTI’s declaration. You also might want to check with the local restaurants and coffee shops if they allow outdoor dining. Consider taking time out to call them or verify on their respective social media channels/accounts to see if outdoor dining is allowed.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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

COVID-19 Crisis: National Capital Region (NCR) and 4 nearby provinces plus a few other places now under MECQ until April 30, 2021

After two whole weeks of being placed under the restrictive ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna (note: these form NCR Plus as called by the local authorities) are now under MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) until April 30, 2021. Far away from NCR Plus are the City of Santiago, the Province of Quezon and Abra in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) which also have been placed under MECQ status.

The shift to MECQ was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte in relation to the commitments made by more public and private hospitals to provide rooms and beds for patients suffering from COVID-19 (China Virus). The President urged PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation) to expedite the payment of claims of hospitals. For more details on this, read the Philippine News Agency’s (PNA) article.

MECQ is supposed to be the less restrictive form of quarantine. For one thing, the hours of curfew in Metro Manila has been adjusted to 8PM to 5AM (versus 6PM to 5AM under ECQ). To put things in perspective, here is an excerpt from the PNA’s article…

According to amended omnibus guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) as of April 3, 2021, strict home quarantine shall be observed in all households under MECQ. Movement of persons shall be limited to accessing essential goods and services, and for work in permitted offices or establishments or such activities allowed.

Persons below 18 years old, those who are over 65 years old, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women shall be required to remain at home at all times except for obtaining essential goods and services or for work.

Under the IATF-EID guidelines, the following establishments, persons, or activities shall not be permitted to operate, work, or be undertaken during MECQ:

— Entertainment venues with live performers such as karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, theaters, and cinemas;

— Recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues;

— Amusement parks or theme parks, fairs/peryas, kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom and kiddie rides;

— Outdoor sports courts or venues for contact sports, scrimmages, games, or activities;

— Indoor sports courts or venues, fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centers or facilities, and swimming pools;


— Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments except for the draws conducted by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office;

— Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and cultural shows and exhibits;

— Outdoor tourist attractions;

— Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions;

— Personal care services which include beauty salons, beauty parlors, medical esthetic clinics, cosmetic or derma clinics, make-up salons, nail spas, reflexology, aesthetics, wellness and holistic centers, and other similar establishments; acupuncture and electrocautery establishments, and massage therapy including sports therapy establishments. It also includes establishments providing tanning services, body piercings, tattooing and similar services. Home service for these activities is likewise not permitted; and

— Indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as commissaries, restaurants, and eateries.

Now that the MECQ is in effect, we will find out soon enough how the many struggling businesses will perform, how many affected employees will be able to return to work, how vehicular traffic on the highways and major roads will turn out and how these changes will affect the daily count of new COVID-19 cases which has been averaging over 10,000 a day recently.

It has been over a year since the China Virus spread worldwide and negatively impacted the way people lived, brought down their earnings, made attending on-site worship harder (note: the authorities in California did Satan’s bidding and the United States Supreme Court struck down their abuse of power legally), and pushed varied authorities to adjust the way they manage their places and constituents. No matter how grim the situation is, I urge you my readers to never lose hope and always look up to Lord Jesus who is the true Savior for us all. I encourage you to grab a copy of the Holy Bible and read the full Chapter 91 of the Book of Psalms, believe in it and come to Lord Jesus.

God will make a way for those who are faithful to Him. You do not need religion. You do not need unbelief. You do not need to believe in this screwed-up world we live in. You do not need idols for they are unholy and idolatry itself is foolish. You need unwavering faith in Him for He is holy and only He deserves our worship, trust and honor.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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

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.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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

COVID-19 Crisis: Contact tracing efforts in Muntinlupa City through StaySafe.PH app tightened in response to rising COVID-19 cases

With tighter contact tracing efforts and integration of local COVID-19 data in the StaySafe.PH system, confirmed cases and their close contacts in Muntinlupa cannot falsify their health condition and will be barred entry from local establishments.

The City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of Muntinlupa and Management Information System Office have started tagging COVID-19 cases in the StaySafe.PH app allowing establishments to identify confirmed, probable, and suspect cases based from real-time data from the City Health Office.

Since March 9, 2021, the profiles of all individuals under the surveillance of Muntinlupa CHO were identified in the contact tracing system and were adjusted accordingly. Individuals with purple screen corresponds to “Government Declared as CONFIRMED,” orange screen as “Government Declared as PROBABLE,” and red screen as “Government Declared as SUSPECTED.”

Establishments are advised to prohibit entry, isolate immediately, and report to the City Health Office or Barangay Health Emergency Response Team those individuals with non-eligible screens upon scanning of the StaySafe.Ph QR Code. Upon recovery, the profile of individuals with confirmed or probable status will revert to “good condition” with a green screen and will be allowed entry to establishments anew.

The color-based indicators from StaySafe.ph app. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

Recently, the City Government of Muntinlupa, in partnership with the Department of Health, launched the Staysafe.PH app as the official digital contact tracing system in the city and has implemented a “No QR Code, No Entry Policy” in all commercial establishments, workplaces, churches, and government offices in the city.

Mayor Jaime Fresnedi urged all residents and owners of establishments in the city to use the StaySafe.PH app amid rising COVID-19 cases. He said the adoption of StaySafe.PH in Muntinlupa is in compliance with the national government’s recommendation for a uniformed contact tracing system to prevent further COVID-19 transmission, especially with the detection of the contagious variants in the country.

All residents and visitors who will enter, work, or do business in all indoor or enclosed public and private establishments in Muntinlupa shall be required to download and register at the StaySafe.PH application and secure a unique QR Code which they can store on their phone or print for physical copy. QR Codes for non-smartphone user registrants shall be generated by their respective barangays and shall be distributed to where the registrant resides.

Members of the Muntinlupa City StaySafe.Ph Task Force has conducted regular inspections to ensure compliance of local public and private establishments. As of March 11, 2021, the local Task Force has issued 235 notice of violations to non-compliant establishments.

Violators will be charged with P2,000 penalty and suspension of franchise or business permit until violation has been rectified for first offense, P3,000 for second offense, and suspension or revocation of franchise or business permit including P5,000 for the third offense. In case the offender is a government official or employee, the maximum penalty shall be imposed including the filing of administrative, civil, or criminal action.

+++++

The above information was provided by the City Government of Muntinlupa for the purpose of public information and transparency. Some parts were edited for this website.

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