THE Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is expected to announce today or tomorrow the quarantine status (QS) of all local government units (LGUs) all over the country for the next 15 days, or from Sept. 1 to 15. A reliable source said Cebu City might be downgraded from general community quarantine (GCQ) to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status, which has more relaxed restrictions.

The downgrading is so because we have “flattened the curve.” Meaning, positive cases have been drastically reduced compared to the previous months. The contributory factor for the reduction was due to the strict implementation of health protocol and the corresponding harsh penalties imposed on violators and the Cebuanos’ change in attitude.

Is this thes right decision? I don’t know. Mayor Edgardo Labella earlier said he would still require people to carry quarantine passes when they ventured outside and entertainment and leisure establishments would remain closed even if the city’s quarantine status was downgraded to MGCQ. Labella’s stand has been supported by the PNP hierarchy in the region.

Some countries that relaxed their quarantine statuses and lifted their lockdowns have experienced a tremendous increase in Covid-19 cases. “We should not be complacent and should remain vigilant despite of these positive developments,” Labella said. I think that is the right thing to do. MGCQ is still a quarantine status and the fact remains that the virus still exists.

Based on the guidelines, here are the differences between GCQ and MGCQ so that the public will know their rights vis-a-vis the restrictions. Well, if there will be a second spike, then we can blame it on the quarantine status.

1. On health standards. GCQ and MGCQ: Minimum public health standards shall be complied with at all times;

2. Movement. GCQ: Movement should be limited to accessing essential goods and services and for work in the offices or industries permitted to operate. Persons below 21 and those who are 60 and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, or other health risks and pregnant women should stay home at all times unless they have to buy essential goods and services, or are allowed to work in permitted industries. MGCQ: All persons are allowed outside their residence.

3. Transportation. GCQ: Road, rail, maritime and aviation sectors of public transportation shall operate at a reduced operational and vehicle capacity. A minimum of one-meter physical distancing in public transport is required.

MGCQ: Road, rail, maritime and aviation sectors of public transportation shall operate in accordance with the guidelines of the Department of Transportation. A minimum of one-meter physical distancing in public transport is required.

Private transportation shall be allowed and the use of bikes is strongly encouraged.

4. Mass gatherings. GCQ: Non-work essential, entertainment-related mass gatherings are prohibited. Religious gatherings should be limited to 10 people only.

MGCQ: Public gatherings are allowed provided the participants shall be limited to 50 percent of the venue or seating capacity.

5. Government work. GCQ: Work in all government offices may be at full operational capacity or under such alternative work arrangements allowed by the Civil Service Commission.

MGCQ: Physical reporting for work is allowed in full capacity with alternative arrangements for those 60 and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, or other health risks and pregnant women.

6. Exercises. GCQ: Individual outdoor exercises are allowed such as walking, jogging, running, or biking. Wearing face masks and physical distancing is required.

MGCQ: Individual and group outdoor exercises including non-contact sports such as golf, tennis, table tennis, swimming are allowed. Minimum public health standards should be observed.

7. Business sector. GCQ: The following industries are allowed to operate under the provided capacity:

Full capacity: Power, energy, water, utilities, agriculture, fishery and forestry industries, food manufacturing and food supply chain businesses, food retail establishments such as supermarkets, food preparation establishments limited to take-out and delivery services, health-related establishments, logistics, information technology and telecommunications, and the media;

50 percent to full capacity: Mining and other manufacturing, electronic commerce, delivery, repair and maintenance, and housing and office services;

50 per cent work onsite: Financial services, legal and accounting, auditing services, professional services, scientific services, technical services, non-leisure services, non-leisure wholesale and retail.

MGCQ: The following industries are allowed to operate under the provided capacity:

50 percent capacity: Barbershops, salons, personal care establishments, dine-in services.