Briones: Back to square one

Publio J. Briones III

THE first thing I did when I woke up yesterday morning was to check the situation outside.

I peered through the gate and surveyed the scene.

A barricade was erected at the end of the street to separate Sambag 1 and 2, although there was enough space to allow pedestrians to pass.

Nothing surprising really since that same barricade was up while the city was under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) the first time around.

I saw maybe one or two people walking. No one was hanging around the corner. There were no loiterers. Again, just like it was when the city was first placed on ECQ.

Come to think of it, it might have been a bad idea to downgrade Cebu City’s status to general community quarantine (GCQ) last June 1, after over two months of ECQ.

We should have transitioned gradually.

We ended up taking two steps forward only to take two steps backward some three weeks later. So we’re back to square one. Of course, I am saying that now after the fact.

When restrictions were eased at the beginning of the month, I, like the thousands of people who had been cooped up in their houses or in their neighborhoods for a long period of time, reveled at the idea that the end to the health crisis was near.

To mark the occasion, I and a friend headed to the Cebu Business Park to jog. There we saw other regulars from the Cebu City Sports Center whom we haven’t seen since the facility was closed to the public in the middle of March.

I have been going to the oval since I embarked on a journey to lead a much healthier lifestyle.

It has been more than seven years since I lost 80 pounds–30 of which I gained in the last three months–and quit smoking. And I did that by walking five kilometers a day, every day, for almost two years before I switched to jogging.

I, of all people, should have known that things don’t happen overnight. That this pandemic would not go away because the government decided to loosen its hold on its citizens to contain a highly infectious disease.

When Talisay City returned to GCQ status after it was placed on modified ECQ, Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. reminded residents to strictly adhere to health guidelines to prevent infection.

He said Cebu and the rest of the country were given a chance to “breathe” so people could earn a living. In other words, the decision to downgrade the quarantine status was purely economic.

And I knew that.

But to be allowed to think that there was a glimmer of hope that life as we knew was returning to normal was just plain cruel.