Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said he will consider recommending to the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to revert the quarantine status of the city to general community quarantine (GCQ) in the event that there will be a spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases by February. Currently, Cebu City is under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), a more relaxed status. This has been the status of the city since September last year after the number of Covid-19 cases drastically fell.
But hizonner clarified that he will not do it unilaterally. He will consult first the City Health Department and the Department of Health (DOH) before making such a move. “It would really depend on the circumstances. There is no problem with me (reverting to stricter status) because we really have to observe strict compliance of our quarantine,” he told reporters.
Although he backtracked last Monday saying, “it is not yet necessary to implement it immediately,” the mayor added that, “many things can happen in the future. It will depend on the situation.” These past few days, the new Covid-19 cases in the city have increased to double digits. Last Saturday, the city logged 54 new cases while last Sunday and Monday there were 49 and 23 new cases, respectively.
The DOH 7 officials suspect that the increase in positive cases was a result of the Christmas holidays when people tended to lower their guard by attending mass gatherings and the Misa de Gallo. Though there is a “noticeable increase” in the number of new cases, DOH experts are saying that this is not considered alarming. Health officials reminded the public, especially the Roman Catholic faithful, not to be complacent while attending the novena masses for the annual celebration of the Fiesta of the Señor Sto. Niño.
On Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, officials of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño canceled the physical novena masses. It’s good that the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) also decided to cancel the ritual showdown, or else that event would have contributed to an increase in positive cases because of massive transmission.
If we will return to GCQ, we can only blame ourselves because we tend to lower our guard even when the virus is still very much around. GCQ is a stricter quarantine protocol compared to our current MGCQ status. However, compared to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), GCQ is more relaxed and is enforced in areas classified as moderate to low-risk in terms of Covid-19 cases. The National Capital Region (NCR) and other parts of Luzon are presently under GCQ.
Under GCQ, full operations for agriculture, fisheries, forestry sectors, food manufacturing, all supply chains including ink, packaging, and raw materials, supermarkets, hospitals, logistics, water, energy, internet, telecommunications and media are allowed. Restaurants may only open for take-out and delivery. There can be 50 to 100 percent opening for manufacturing, electronics and exports, e-commerce, and delivery for essential and non-essential items, repair and maintenance services, housing and office services.
But certain sectors must remain completely closed under GCQ. These include all schools, leisure, amusement, gaming and fitness, tourism, all major gatherings, including religious conferences. Malls can only have “limited opening” of their operations, and only non-leisure stores can open. The general population may only leave their houses to access basic necessities. Persons below 21 years old and those who are 60 years old and above, as well as those with underlying ailments must stay at home. Mass transportation may operate but only at a limited capacity.
Now, do you want this to happen again?