IF CEBU City’s quarantine status is downgraded to the less restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) on Sept. 1, 2020, Mayor Edgardo Labella wants to retain the use of the quarantine passes to limit the residents’ movements in public spaces.
He also does not want the entertainment industries such as theaters and organizers of concerts to resume their businesses. This is to avoid the gathering of people in one place.
The government-imposed community quarantine’s purpose is to safeguard the public from contracting Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Cebu City is under general community quarantine (GCQ) until Aug. 31, 2020.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases still has to decide whether to retain the city’s current quarantine status.
Labella admitted that the MGCQ status is favorable to the business community, which has suffered amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, he has reservations about this quarantine status.
He said MGCQ has a “corresponding disadvantage” because it entails less restrictions.
“Until now, I do not quite agree if this should be done during MGCQ: the opening of theaters, movie houses and concerts,” Labella said.
He said the social distancing policy is hard to monitor in places or events with a large crowd.
Labella said he still wants to implement the use of quarantine passes with quick response (QR) codes if the city is placed under MGCQ.
“As I’ve said, whether we like it or not, whether it is GCQ, ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), MGCQ or MECQ, it’s still quarantine and the virus is still around,” he said.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Cebu City Director Ian Kenneth Lucero said Labella can still order the use of the quarantine passes.
“If the mayor deems it necessary to continue the enforcement of the quarantine passes to sustain all the city’s efforts in addressing Covid-19, he can,” said Lucero, who is also the secretariat head of the regional IATF.
Lucero said the MGCQ status is the transition phase between GCQ and the new normal.
In GCQ and MGCQ settings, minimum public health standards such as wearing masks and observing physical distance must be complied with at all times.
Public movement in a place under GCQ is limited to getting essential goods and services, and work in the offices or industries permitted to operate.
Persons below 21 and those who are 60 and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities or other health risks and pregnant women must stay home at all times unless they have to buy essential goods and services, or are allowed to work in permitted businesses.
On the other hand, all persons are allowed outside their houses in a place on MGCQ status.
Public transport is allowed in both GCQ and modified GCQ settings provided that the physical distancing is observed inside permitted public utility vehicles.
When asked if the RIATF already has a recommendation for Cebu City’s quarantine status for September, Lucero said it is not part of the process for the RIATF to recommend.
Lucero said the IATF, based on data, considers the social, security, economic and health risks in determining the risk level classification for the local government units.
The RIATF, he said, will only take part if there is an appeal from a local government unit on its risk level classification determined by the IATF.
The appeal will pass through the RIATF for concurrence before it is endorsed to the technical working group of the IATF for appropriate action.
To maintain discipline, Labella said checkpoints in some areas in Cebu City may continue if the city is placed on MGCQ status.
The mayor will meet with representatives of government agencies, including the officials of the Department of Health (DOH), Cebu City Health Department and the Philippine National Police.
He will also meet with the representatives of private hospitals to discuss the city’s Covid-19 situation.
Labella said he has to consult different sectors to ensure that the “health of the people in the City of Cebu will not be compromised” if the city’s quarantine status is downgraded to MGCQ.
The mayor said Cebu City has now “flattened the curve” of Covid-19 cases.
As of Aug. 25, Cebu City had a total of 9,531 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 1,212 active cases.
The city had logged seven new cases on Aug. 25.
The number of recoveries in the city reached 7,694. It had a total of 625 mortalities.
Labella also disclosed that of the 54 schools used as Barangay Isolation Centers (BICs), only four schools remain as BICs. He did not disclose the names of the four schools.
The mayor attributed this development to the city residents who follow quarantine rules, the aggressive contact tracing, massive Covid-19 testing and the help of law enforcers.
He also credited the assistance of IATF Deputy Chief Implementer for the Visayas Melquiades Feliciano and appointed overseer of Cebu City’s Covid-19 response Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu. (JJL)