Rama mulls lifting Cebu City curfew, but police not for it

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CEBU City may also lift its curfew for a gradual shift to the new normal amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, following the announcement that the curfew in Metro Manila, comprised of 17 local government units, will be lifted on Nov. 4.

“We will discuss it from the convergence point of view. If and when we are ready, then why not?” Cebu City Acting Mayor Michael Rama said on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

The acting mayor said he would first discuss the matter with officials of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Ahead of this meeting, however, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) said Wednesday it would not recommend lifting the curfew.

The acting mayor has not said when he will convene the convergence meeting of the various sectors, including the business sector.

City Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the EOC, also said they would have to observe the Covid-19 situation in the city first.

“Now, it’s too early. We have yet to see the effects of the loosening of our restrictions, on Covid-19 infections. Maybe in two weeks’ time, we are going to reassess the situation because it hasn’t been too long yet that we allowed the minors to go out of their homes,” Garganera said.

Since Covid-19 reached Cebu City, the City has imposed a curfew.

Last year, the curfew began as early as 8 p.m. during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period, the strictest quarantine classification. This was moved later to 10 p.m. during the period of modified general community quarantine.

Now that the Alert Level System has been implemented and the city has been placed under Alert Level 2, the curfew has become shorter at from 11:30 pm to 4 a.m.

Under Alert Level 2 and since Oct. 25, minors in the city have been allowed to go out of their homes to enter establishments permitted to operate at limited capacity, for as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Just like in Metro Manila, new Covid-19 cases in Cebu City have dropped. Cebu City Health Department data show that in the last 10 days, 45 of the city’s 80 barangays had not recorded any Covid-19 transmission.

Keep curfew

Despite this, Police Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, CCPO deputy city director for operation, wants the curfew maintained.

Parilla said the curfew had done a lot to reduce the number of new Covid-19 cases because this limited the mobility of the people at night.

The curfew had also contributed to lowering the crime volume in the city in the past few months as people returned home early.

“We prefer to still have a curfew because at least we would still be in control. Aside from controlling (the growth of) Covid cases, the curfew has had a big impact on crime volume,” Parilla said.

In fact, the CCPO’s Covid-19 response that has kept Covid-19 cases low was even held up as a model, whose best practices Camp Crame instructed all police regional offices nationwide to adopt.

Police Col. Roderick Minong, deputy regional director for operations of the Police Regional Office 7, said that while Covid-19 cases in major cities in the capital and in Mindanao increased, Covid cases in Cebu City continued to decline.

Parilla said the CCPO could only propose the maintenance of the curfew to the EOC, and that if the government decided to lift the curfew, it would have to abide by this.

As of Nov. 3, there were only around 200 active cases of Covid-19 in Cebu City. As a result, the critical care utilization rate (CCUR) of the 15 hospitals located in Cebu City has been declining.

From the 80 percent CCUR in August, that brought harrowing scenes of patients receiving treatment inside their cars while waiting in line outside hospitals, now there is only a 15.48 percent occupancy of Covid-19 beds in hospitals, where only 63 patients from Cebu City continue to be treated for the viral infection.

Only barangays Talamban and Guadalupe have had active cases in the double-digits, at 16 and 14 active cases, in the past 10 days.

Some barangays had only one to eight active cases.

The EOC recorded only 10 new cases from 498 individuals who were swabbed, on Nov. 2.

Rama urged the people not to give up on their usual health precautions despite the decline in Covid cases in the city.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) has agreed to lift the unified curfew hours in the entire National Capital Region (NCR) starting Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said.

A resolution signed by all the 17 Metro Manila mayors and MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos stated that the standardized 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. curfew imposed during the surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the Metro over the past month has been lifted.

However, the existing local ordinances on the curfew hours for persons below 18 years old will remain in effect.

Abalos said with the Christmas season approaching, mall operators also agreed to extend their operating hours until 11 p.m., instead of the usual 10 p.m. (CTL, AYB, TPM / SunStar Philippines)

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