PUBLIC transport will remain operational, businesses will stay open and vaccinations will continue even if more stringent quarantine restrictions are enforced in Cebu City in the next two weeks, Cebu City Acting Mayor Michael Rama assured.
“We do not want to close our economy. If it is going to be closed, is the national government, is IATF willing to give us money?” Rama said, referring to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the policy-making body for the government’s pandemic response.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved IATF Resolution 130-A, which placed Cebu City and Cebu Province under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) along with the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu on Aug. 1 to 15, 2021.
The quarantine status of Cebu City and Cebu Province is, however, “subject to further appeals by their respective local government units.”
Rama said he won’t appeal. He would rather address the rising coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the city.
He ordered a review of the directives issued by Mayor Edgardo Labella on quarantine restrictions before issuing a new executive order, possibly this weekend.
Both Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes and Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan, on the other hand, were still hopeful that the IATF will downgrade their quarantine classification.
In case their appeal is rejected, Cortes said non-essential establishments will have to temporarily close and public utility vehicles (PUVs) will cease operating in Mandaue.
But he said the City will provide free transport to essential and frontline workers.
All vaccination sites will remain open. Mandaue City will also launch a mobile vaccination clinic in partnership with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Cebu chapter.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. assured that some PUVs will be allowed to operate under MECQ to ferry essential workers. Operators will have to secure special permits from LTFRB.
“The equation would be the passenger demand. The number of units might be reduced if there are only a few passengers,” he told SunStar Cebu in a text message Friday.
Based on the Omnibus Guidelines on community quarantine classifications, all PUVs are not allowed to operate. Only essential establishments are open, and only essential workers and authorized persons are allowed outside their homes.
Children under 18 and adults over 65 as well as immunodeficient persons and pregnant women must stay home, except when they have to go on supply runs.
Police again set up checkpoints across Cebu City, especially along its borders, beginning 10 p.m. Friday, July 30, to strictly implement the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew.
Police Col. Josefino Ligan, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) director, said all vehicles, including those privately owned, are inspected. They will also patrol the barangays to ensure that all residents are home by 10 p.m.
In Lapu-Lapu City, Chan said their 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be strictly enforced along with a recent executive order reimposing the liquor ban and limited operations of bars and restaurants.
Nagiel Bañacia, head of the Lapu-Lapu Covid Response Team, said he favors the reimposition of MECQ restrictions to stop transmission of the Delta variant.
Chan, however, said the more stringent policies he enforced against gatherings and the increasing inoculations in the City should convince the IATF to reconsider.
He said hospitals in Lapu-Lapu City are willing to admit patients from other cities and towns in Cebu.
To address the rising Covid-19 cases in Cebu City, Rama said they will complete the first three floors of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) in one week. This will provide additional beds.
The Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas will take over the Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC) while the City will fasttrack transformation of the Cebu City Sports Center into a field hospital and hiring of nurses.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma has offered the use of the IC3 Convention Center as isolation center again.
Rama also said he will appeal to the national government for more Covid-19 vaccines.
To continue vaccinations under MECQ, Councilor David Tumulak said buses will transport vaccine recipients.
Cortes said he will meet with the Finance Committee to realign some funds for the distribution of rice and other possible assistance to residents during MECQ.
Monsignor Joseph Tan, Archdiocese of Cebu spokesperson, said mass attendance in parishes might be reduced further to 30 percent of venue capacity from the current 50 percent.
Barrio chapel masses will remain suspended for another month while masses in offices and factories are also suspended.
Children under 15 are barred from attending baptisms and confirmation rites unless they are the recipients.
Couples are advised to hold simpler weddings and do away with an entourage.
Only one wake mass would be allowed in the home of the deceased upon coordination with the local government unit.
Meanwhile, business leaders pushed for the strict enforcement of health protocols and granular lockdowns instead of MECQ.
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam said they expect losses to mount again and workers to be displaced during MECQ.
“You can close down a business sector anytime but to reopen and reboot it will take months and considering the present economic situation, it may just die and be permanently closed,” Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu said. (JJL, KFD, WBS, AYB, GCM, JOB)