Province exempts food workers

FOOD workers are now allowed to enter Cebu Province from Cebu City.

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order 5-O-1 providing additional exemptions under Section 15 of her EO 5-O that provided the guidelines in the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) for the whole Province of Cebu.

Under Section 15 of EO 5-O, once Cebu Province closed its borders with Cebu City starting March 30, no persons would be allowed entry into the territorial jurisdiction of the Province as defined by the borders of the City of Mandaue in the North, the City of Talisay in the South, the Municipality of Balamban in the West, and the Municipality of Cordova on Mactan Island, unless they were local government officials, employees of the Provincial government, media personnel, hospital workers, field personnel of utilities, and bank employees, among other exempted persons.

Food workers were not included among the exemptions.

Under EO 5-O-1, now also exempted from the prohibition on entry to Cebu Province are personnel working in grocery stores and supermarkets; drugstores and pharmacies; restaurants, bakeries, fast food chains and pizza chains; funeral services that include funeral parlor employees, immediate family of the deceased, officiating priests and other religious ministers.

There should be only 10 persons in the funeral service, excluding direct family members.

Earlier, Mandaue City, which is under the territorial jurisdiction of the Province, continued to allow some persons not exempted under the governor’s EO 5-O to pass through its border with Cebu City, considered the epicenter of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in Cebu.

In her live regular news conference via Sugbo News on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, Garcia again emphasized the need for strict movement limitations given the rising number of Covid-19 cases especially in Cebu City.

Garcia said before the province-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) took effect at 12:01 a.m. March 30, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes agreed with the Provincial Government’s measure to close Mandaue’s border with Cebu City except for those exempted by the Province to enter and exit Cebu City.

But Mandaue opened its borders for its constituents working in Cebu City’s ECQ-exempted establishments.

Garcia said she has been trying to call Cortes, but has been unable to reach the mayor.

“I respect your local autonomy, if that’s what you want, but you are exposing the rest of Mandaue (to Covid-19),” Garcia said.

The governor explained if the Province will ease its border restrictions, those who will enter and exit on a daily basis from Cebu City may become carriers of the coronavirus and endanger the lives of people living in their hometowns.

“Maybe you’ll say we’re overreacting because there are only 20 cases. Well, the Philippines started with 50. Now, there are 1,546 cases and 68 have died. This is the time to be overreacting. When are we supposed to act? When we could no longer handle it?” she asked.

Garcia said she will leave it up to Talisay City Mayor Gerard Anthony Gullas Jr. whether or not the neophyte local chief executive will follow the steps taken by Cortes.

Talisay is the gateway to southern Cebu. It has borders with Cebu City in Barangay Bulacao and Laray at the Cebu South Coastal Road.

“You can make the decision. It’s always a choice, I know. You can choose to face the criticism now, but in so doing perhaps save thousands of lives, or we can postpone the criticism which will come anyway if the virus spreads and lives will be lost,” Garcia said.

“I don’t know about you but my choice is clear. Blame it on me because I believe this is the way we should go, while we can still do something about it. We don’t want to be forced in a situation when we are already helpless and there is nothing much we can do,” she added. (RTF)