CEBU

Nalzaro: Balancing health and economy

Saksi

I BELIEVE it was very difficult for Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella to decide for a transition from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ). It was a struggle within himself to shift to a more relaxed situation by loosening the restrictions for the Cebuanos’ benefit. It was a matter of striking a balance between public health the city’s economy, which has been greatly affected after the two-month lockdown. Businesses were down and many Cebuanos lost their jobs.

Starting today, June 1 until June 15, the city is placed under GCQ. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved the request of Mayor Labella to place the city under such status. It was approved late Friday night. Prior to that, the IATF placed Cebu City under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the only city in the country under such category because the city was high risk.

But the mayor, thinking of the city’s economy and the people’s livelihood, appealed to the IATF to place the city under GCQ. He presented figures of positive cases via the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and the rapid mass testing vis-a-vis with the “recoveries” and the minimal mortality rate. He also presented the city’s capability and preparedness in handling those found positive of the virus by isolating them in the various barangay isolation centers (BIC) and the newly constructed quarantine facilities.

Now what can we expect under GCQ? Some commercial establishments are now open and 50 per cent of the working force is now allowed to report, while the other half is encouraged to do work from home. But those who will report for work have to adopt stricter measures like taking the body temperature, wearing of mask, providing sanitizers and alcohol and observed social distancing in the workplace.

Inter-island vessels are now allowed from GCQ to GCQ areas, but with stricter measures to be imposed by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) like 50 per cent of the total capacity will only be allowed to go on board. As far as the aviation industry is concerned, I think the Department of Transportation (DOTr) through the Air Transportation Office (ATO) and the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), which has its own charter, will come up with its own policies.

Only selected age groups will be allowed to go out. Ages 1-20 and 60 and above, including high-risk individuals, are still prohibited from leaving their homes. This appears to be a very broad stroke, so expect some exemptions. Those working seniors citizens, especially the executives, are exempted from the curfew.

In an interview with DYSS radio over the weekend, Labella said number coding for private vehicles will still be implemented. Buses will be fielded, but PUJs, habal-habal and Angkas are still prohibited. Pedicabs are allowed in the barangay roads, but with only one passenger on board allowed. The alphabetical order every day at the Carbon market will still be observed and the mobile palengke continues in the barangays.

Labella said while GCQ is a bit relaxed, police checkpoints will still be strictly implemented in the barangays and border control. Regardless of our status, the Covid-19 virus is still around. So, the discipline should start within us. Just follow the protocols.


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