Editorial: Tell us what ‘new normal’ means

·2 min read

WE’VE been hearing the phrase “new normal” since September when Cebu and most other parts of the country shifted to modified general community quarantine or MGCQ, after having gone through the three stages before it: enhanced, modified enhanced, general, and modified general.

After all those CQs, what will come next? Must be the “new normal.” Meanwhile, we are told we’re on the last stage of quarantine, but we don’t know when the CQs would end and what would come after them.

Omnibus guidelines of the IATF-MEID, or Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, have not gone beyond the community quarantine phases. There are no provisions for “new normal” yet.

The lower chamber of Congress passed in early September House Bill 6814, providing for measures under the period they call “better normal.” But the would-be law is intended to be enforced during the pandemic for three years from passage or sooner when the National Government declares it eradicated.

That means the phrase “new normal” or “better normal,” as the House bill defines it, won’t necessarily signify the end of the pandemic or stoppage of quarantines.

When Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera was quoted Monday, Nov. 2, as saying the city is “not ready for the new normal,” he must refer to the post-quarantine period.

The post-CQ era is still uncertain because policy-makers have not yet defined it. Restrictions might still be severe and standards high enough for us not to notice the improvement.

How much positivity and death rate must a local government unit maintain to qualify for the “new/better normal” status? And what does “eradicated” mean: in a locality, entire country, the world? A lot would depend on how soon the plague would be contained, actually and not just as imagined by the country’s leaders.

Councilor Nestor Archival, at the City Council’s Oct. 21 session, asked Garganera, deputy implementer of the regional IATF at the city’s Emergency Operations Center, when the pandemic would end to determine the cut-off for Covid-related spending. Garganera said he didn’t know.

As in the past months, during which the country went through one of the longest lockdowns in the world, the public must wait for official definitions for the phases in navigating the public health crisis. We don’t feel OK until we’re told it’s OK. That’s how submissively dependent on government the citizens have become.