BRING back the liquor ban; move the start of curfew one hour early. These are among the suggestions made to control the spread of infections in Cebu City.
These are not novel measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the city as these have been imposed at some point to bring down the number of infection cases. They are not even unique solutions but are part of the lessons from the lockdown months. But they remain pending days after they were raised because no decision is being made.
If we’re to keep Cebu City safe and prevent it from being placed under a more restrictive quarantine category that could impact the economy, decisions have to be made urgently.
Cebu City was fortunate to not be included in the list of eight areas placed by the National Government under the more restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ) category for the whole month of February. Despite taking the number one spot in the daily listing for new Covid-19 cases last Jan. 26, Cebu City did not move from its modified general community quarantine status.
In that GCQ list is the Cordillera Administrative Region where, in Bontoc, Mountain Province, a cluster of infections with the Sars-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant which emerged in the United Kingdom and is said to be more contagious, has been detected. Others in the list are the National Capital Region, Batangas, Tacloban City, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Iligan City.
To make sure Cebu City does not move to a more restrictive quarantine status, officials can agree that control measures have to be taken soon.
The local police have recommended changing the curfew hours to 10 p.m. – 5 a.m. from the current 11 p.m. – 5 a.m. A curfew that is one hour early would make people go home earlier, a police official said. Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said he will consult the business sector first before making a decision.
The liquor ban, which was implemented during the lockdown months, should be implemented again to stop people from going to social gatherings that could turn into super-spreader events for the virus. Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) deputy chief implementer, said the liquor ban is needed following reports of resto-bars and restaurants violating quarantine protocols.
During the total liquor ban of March until end April last year, the Cebu City Government stopped the sale of liquor and disallowed drinking in public. The ban was then relaxed to allow the sale of alcoholic drinks, but public drinking was still not allowed. During the holidays, restaurants were open and people held celebrations there. The EOC said the increase in recent cases was partly due to social gatherings and parties during the holidays.
The early start of curfew and the reimposition of the liquor ban remained as recommendations. The local leadership has to decide soon to adopt these suggestions or ignore them.