Fate of NCR quarantine left to IATF
Whatever is finally decided, businesses will gradually reopen, Palace assures
Malacañang said the InterAgency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will look into the recommendation of Metro Manila mayors for the National Capital Region (NCR) to remain under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) until the end of the year.
“All our mayors agreed to recommend to the IATF to extend GCQ until December 31. It is easy to adjust gradually while under GCQ,” Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia disclosed during a virtual press conference Monday, October 19.
In his Monday presser, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the IATF will still have to study the recommendation of the Metro Manila mayors but added that the decision may just go in that direction.
"Parang 'yan po ang nabubuong consensus pero siyempre po hindi ko po pwedeng pangu
nahan (I think that's the consensus they are arriving at but, of course, I cannot preempt the IATF) because it's a collegial decision,” he said.
Businesses to gradually reopen Despite this, Roque said that even if the IATF decides to keep Metro Manila under GCQ, the different industries in the region will be gradually reopened.
"Ang nangyayari po kasi ngayon, bagama't naka-GCQ ang Metro Manila, eh nagkakaroon po tayo ng mas malawak na pagbubukas ng mga industriya (What's happening now is even though Metro Manila is under GCQ, we are slowly opening the economy)," he said.
“'Yan naman po ang kinakailangan at 'yan po ay kabahagi po ng ating mensahe na kinakailangan pag-ingatan ang ating buhay para makapag-hanapbuhay (That is necessary and part of our message to protect our lives so we can have a livelihood),” he added.
The Metro Manila mayors likewise agreed to allow persons aged 18 to 65 outside their homes.
Recently, the IATF eased the age restriction of people who can go outside their homes to the age ranging from 15 to 65 years old.
“Okay po ang Metro Manila Council pagdating po sa pagbubukas ng mga edad pagdating sa authorized persons outside residence (APOR), pero ang pinagkasunduan po, NCR (National Capital Region) lang po, 18-65 (The Metro Manila Council have agreed to relax quarantine age to 18-65 when it comes to authorized persons outside residence, but the agreement only covers the NCR),” Metro Manila Council Chairman and Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez said in an interview over DZMM Teleradyo.
“Yun pong [below] 18, iniiwasan po nating pagala-gala sa lansangan at yung ating kabataan mas vulnerable sila [sa virus] kaysa ating mas mature na 18 years old (We avoid those who are below 18 to wander the streets because our youth is more vulnerable to the virus than our more mature 18 years old.),” he added.
"Our mayors pointed out that individuals aged 18 are the ones who are allowed to work, therefore, they are not out of their houses for leisure. Those below the said age are more prone to go out their houses just for leisure," Garcia explained.
The IATF also welcomed the decision of Metro Manila mayors to shorten the curfew hours in the cities in the region, except for Navotas, to 12 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Garcia said this is also the recommendation of the economic team in order to boost the economy which was badly affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“This is for our economy, for our establishments to earn more. More people are expected to dine at restaurants due to the change in the curfew hours,” he said.
“All the mayors agreed to this. Of course, health protocols must be strictly observed at such establishments,” Garcia added.
Why not just call it MGCQ?
Despite the relaxation of quarantine restrictions, Roque said the IATF cannot just downgrade Metro Manila to the modified GCQ (MGCQ) that easily, even though the infection rate of COVID-19 is decreasing, because everyone may just go out and forget that the pandemic still exists.
'Well, kasama na po 'yon (That's part of the reason)," he said.
"Tingin ko, kaya ang numero bumababa dahil sumusunod sa health protocols ang ating mga kababayan (I think the numbers are
going down because the people are following the health protocols)," he said.
“Mas mahirap na i-Modified General Community Quarantine or MGCQ na 100 percent tsaka mo babawasan, magkakaroon ng resistance iyan, mahirap i-control. Unlike GCQ tayo tapos gradually tayo nag-a-adjust ng mga capacity. This is the better move para tumakbo ang ekonomiya natin (It is hard to place NCR 100 percent under MGCQ. Then if you decrease the quarantine level, there will be resistance. That's difficult to control. Unlike when we are still under GCQ and we gradually adjust the capacity. This move is better to help our economy),” Garcia explained.
Simbang Gabi Meanwhile, Roque welcomed the decision of Metro Manila mayors to shorten the curfew hours in the region from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. to 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. starting December 1 to accommodate those who will attend the Simbang Gabi (Dawn Masses).
However, he said that the decision to allow more people inside churches will come from the IATF.
"Hihintayin natin ang aksyon ng IATF eh pagdating po doon sa pagtataas ng porsyento ng pupwedeng magsimba na faceto-face (We will wait for the response of the IATF when it comes to increasing the number of people inside churches)," he said.
"Ngayon po kasi sa GCQ 10 percent, ang rekomendasyon ng mga mayor ay itaas sa 30 percent. 'Yan naman po ay tatalakayin ng IATF (Right now, under the GCQ, only 10 percent is allowed but the mayors want to increase it to 30 percent)," he added. (With reports from Jel Santos and Gabriela Baron)