As expected, President Duterte, upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), has placed Cebu City together with the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay and the municipalities of Minglanilla and Consolacion and other local government units (LGUs) in the National Capital Region (NCR) on general community quarantine (GCQ).
Cebu City is on GCQ from Aug. 1-15 after its modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status was downgraded even as the number of confirmed coronavirus disease (Covid 19) cases in the city continues to surge.
Cebu City’s positive cases continue to go up despite efforts by the local government unit and the Covid-19 response team headed by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu. Can we still blame Labella for the massive increase of positive cases? They (task force) have done everything to reduce the number of cases, and yet people have refused to cooperate. The city is still the epicenter of Covid-19 in the country.
What can we expect under a GCQ? GCQ is a form of quarantine with more relaxed measures compared to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
What industries will be allowed to operate? Full operations are allowed for agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors, food manufacturing and all supply chains including ink, packaging and raw materials, supermarkets, hospitals, logistics, water, energy, internet, telecommunications and media.
Restaurants may only open for takeout and delivery. There can be 50 percent or 100 percent opening for manufacturing, electronics and exports, e-commerce and delivery of essential and non-essential items, repair and maintenance services, housing and office service.
But certain operations remain completely closed even under GCQ. These include all schools and leisure, amusement, gaming and fitness and tourism establishments. All major gatherings, including religious conferences, are also prohibited. As for malls, there is to be limited opening of its operations with only non-leisure stores allowed to open.
Can people go out? The general population may only leave their homes to access basic necessities. Still, persons aged 20 years old and younger and those who are 60 years old and above must stay at home. People with risk factors like lung and heart diseases and diabetes cannot go out.
Local government units are ordered to enforce a night curfew for non-workers. Mass transportation will resume but only at a limited capacity. Airports and seaports may operate but only to ensure the unhampered flow of goods.
But we have to remember that whatever our quarantine status, the virus we are fighting against is still there. We may have relaxed the restrictions to balance our public health concerns and the economy, but there is no vaccine yet to control the virus. We still have to practice basic health protocol to combat the virus which are proper hand washing, wearing of face masks and observing social distancing.