The government is considering imposing monthlong community quarantine restrictions to provide stability to people’s movement and the economy, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Monday.
At present, quarantine levels are modified or extended every two weeks.
Lopez said the longer quarantine level was a proposal of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and subject to President Duterte’s approval.
Mr. Duterte was expected to announce his decision on Monday night after a meeting with the task force.
“The main benefit of this is, there would be more stability in our movements, in preparing for the reopening of the economy. There won’t be changes every 14 or 15 days. There would be some stability,” Lopez told a news briefing.
He said the strategy would contribute to the effectiveness of the planned shift to targeted lockdowns—shutting streets or barangays with clusters of new coronavirus infections instead of entire cities or regions—and more relaxed quarantine levels.
Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal have been under general community quarantine since Aug. 19, after being placed under stricter lockdown following an appeal for respite from the country’s weary health workers.
The quarantine was to end at midnight on Monday.
The 17 Metro Manila mayors had recommended a monthlong extension of the general community quarantine in the metropolis and the four surrounding provinces, Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez, head of the Metro Manila Council, said on Monday.
Olivarez said the mayors agreed on the extension during a meeting with six Cabinet officials on Sunday night.
Slow reopening of economy
He said the mayors wanted a slow reopening of the economy with strict enforcement of public health standards.
“We have to strike a balance between [health] and [the] economy,” Olivarez said.
None of the mayors proposed a more relaxed quarantine level, he said, “because we want to maintain the health [measures] currently in place.”
“We want the public to strictly comply with them,” he said.
The mayors also agreed to shorten the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in the metropolis to 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to allow longer business hours, he said.
They also agreed to ask the city councils to pass ordinances requiring the wearing of protective masks and face shields in public places.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the coronavirus response task force was studying the mayors’ recommendation.
Lopez said the task force had allowed gyms, review and tutorial centers, and personal grooming shops to resume operations starting Tuesday.
These businesses had been restricted from operating under general community quarantine.
“We have close coordination with [the] Metro Manila mayors. Several [Cabinet officials] meet with [the] mayors every week for smoother operations and transition to reopening the economy,” Lopez said.
He estimated that 75 percent of businesses would be allowed to operate in parts of the country under general community quarantine.
Customers are few, however, because of the restrictions on movement, including keeping people under 21 and senior citizens at home.
But it was unclear whether those restrictions would be relaxed under the monthlong quarantine.
—With reports from Dexter Cabalza and Julie M. Aurelio
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