Friday, August 06, 2021

Government allows selected gatherings

CEBU. The San Fernando Rey Parish Church in the northern town of Liloan, Cebu welcomes worshippers on Sunday, May 24, 2020, the first time since Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma banned crowd gathering amid the coronavirus disease pandemic in the middle of March. Cebu Province is under a state of general community quarantine, which allows churches to open provided public health protocol is observed. (Allan Cuizon)

GATHERINGS that are essential for the provision of government services and authorized humanitarian activities are now allowed at all quarantine levels based on new guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Under Resolution 38, a 24-page resolution issued by the IATF on Friday, May 22, 2020, there are specific kinds of mass gathering activities that are allowed at all levels of community quarantine including enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), provided that these follow the minimum public health standards issued by the Department of Health (DOH).

Religious gatherings in areas under MECQ are not encouraged and shall be limited to not more than five persons, while religious gatherings in areas under GCQ are limited to not more than 10 persons.

Religious gatherings in areas under MGCQ will be allowed under guidelines declared through the subsequent issuance of the IATF.

Limited operations in malls and shopping centers are also allowed in areas under MECQ and GCQ, except for leisure establishments and services which will continue to be closed.

However, those below 21 years old and those 60 years old and above and those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity or other health risks and pregnant women may not enter malls and shopping centers "except when indispensable under the circumstances for obtaining essential goods, services, or work in establishments located therein."

Mass gatherings such as but not limited to movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment activities, community assemblies and non-essential work gatherings will only be allowed in areas under MGCQ, provided that participants will be limited to 50 percent of the venue or seating capacity.

Outdoor, non-contact sports

Under GCQ and MGCQ, the following outdoor and non-contact sports and other forms exercise are allowed, provided that the minimum public health standards such as the wearing of masks and the maintenance of social distancing protocol and no sharing of equipment where applicable are observed. These are walking, jogging, running, biking, golf, swimming, tennis, badminton, equestrian and skate boarding.

Barbershops, salons and other personal care service establishments will be allowed to operate under MGCQ at a maximum of 50 percent of venue capacity.

Dine-in services in food retail establishments such as supermarkets, grocery stores and food preparation establishments are allowed at a maximum of 50 percent of its seating capacity.

Face-to-face or in-person classes at all levels are suspended in areas under ECQ, MECQ and GCQ.

The opening of classes for basic education will be on Aug. 24, 2020 and it will end on April 30, 2021.

Opening of private schools will be allowed within the period provided by law. Provided that school learning continuity plan will be submitted.

Face-to-face classes will not be allowed earlier than Aug. 24.

Conduct of curricular and co-curricular activities involving gatherings such as science fairs, showcase of portfolios, trade fairs, school sports, campus journalism, festival of talents, job fairs and other similar activities is cancelled except those conducted online.

Moreover, higher educatiotn institution (HEI) using full online education can open anytime, while HEIs using flexible learning can open anytime in August 2020.

HEIs using significant face-to-face or in-person mode can open not earlier than Sept. 1, 2020. No face-to-face or in-person classes will be conducted in tertiary level until Aug. 31.

Workplace situation

The movement of the following persons across areas placed under any form of community quarantine shall be permitted:

health and emergency frontline personnel;

government officials and government frontline personnel;

duly authorized humanitarian assistance actors;

persons traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons;

persons going to the airport for travel abroad;

returning or repatriated overseas Filipino workers;

other persons transported through the efforts of the national government upon the observance of necessary quarantine protocols and with the concurrence of the receiving local government units; and

anyone crossing zones for work permitted in the zone of destination and going back home.

With the government easing some restrictions, business leaders in Cebu reiterated the call for businesses to adopt health and safety guidelines for the unhampered flow of goods and services.

That would mean strict compliance of health protocol in the workplace, said Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam.

"There is a gradual opening (of businesses) as stated at 50 percent and then ramping up as time goes by. This is for all of us to adapt to the new norm protocol," he said.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu said everyone still has to practice high caution when in public as the virus is highly contagious and the strain may become stronger or mutate anytime.

"While selective gatherings of people are allowed, the minimum public health standards still apply. And the types of gathering are qualified to allow only those who are critical to the delivery of essential private and public services including emergency and non-emergency health care services," Yu said.

Until a vaccine is found and administered to a large number of the population, extreme caution is to be exercised and the community quarantine should still be imposed across all areas, he said. (WBS, JOB)


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