FOR the second half of August, the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu will remain under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) along with the provinces of Aklan, Apayao and Ilocos Norte.
Laguna, Iloilo City and Cagayan de Oro City, however, will de-escalate from the most restrictive enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to MECQ from Aug. 16 to 31, 2021.
Other areas that will be placed under MECQ from Aug. 16 to 31 are Bulacan, Cavite, Lucena City, Rizal and Iloilo Province, Malacańang further announced.
The National Capital Region (NCR) will remain under ECQ until Aug. 20 while Bataan will still be under ECQ until Aug. 22.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. announced these quarantine classifications Friday, Aug. 13, after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Placed under GCQ with heightened restrictions from Aug. 16 to Aug. 31 are the following areas: Ilocos Sur, Cagayan, Quezon, Batangas and Naga City in Luzon; Antique, Bacolod City and Capiz in Western Visayas; Cebu and Negros Oriental in Central Visayas; Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao Occidental, Davao de Oro and Butuan City in Mindanao.
Areas under GCQ until August 31 are the following: Tarlac, Baguio City, Santiago City, Quirino, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Puerto Princesa in Luzon; Guimaras and Negros Occidental in Western Visayas; Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Islands and Cotabato City in Mindanao.
All other areas are under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) from August 16 to 31.
Meanwhile, Cebu City is geared towards an “80-20 solution,” giving public health 80 percent consideration, while keeping 20 percent of the city’s economy operational.
The goal was announced by the City Government following the extension of the city’s MECQ risk classification until Aug. 31.
While calling for the strict implementation of MECQ guidelines and health protocols, Acting Mayor Michael Rama also ensured that essential establishments will remain open during the whole MECQ period.
The City’s current MECQ guidelines allow public transport services and the operation of more business establishments, unlike the MECQ guidelines in 2020 which were more restrictive.
The liquor ban remains, however, while non-essential establishments, including dine-in food services are not allowed.
Rama, in a press conference on Aug. 13, said he will issue an executive order (EO) for the enforcement of specific restrictions in the city on or before Aug. 15, 2021.
“(With) The figure (on active Covid cases) that we have, it’s very clear that it’s not yet improving,” said Rama.
Based on data gathered by the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Cebu City had 3,498 active Covid-19 cases as of Aug. 12.
The city’s total cases reached 33,206 since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 with 28,647 recoveries and 1,061 deaths.
Rama said his EO will order the creation of “Task Force 8-1531” which will be tasked to strictly enforce the City’s MECQ guidelines.
Rama explained that 8-1531 stands for Aug. 15 to 31.
Rama said one of the main solutions eyed by the City is to have sufficient medical staff to attend to Covid-19 patients.
Cebu City Health Department (CHD) officer-in-charge Jeffrey Ibones said the City would need a total of 500 nurses and doctors for deployment in public and private hospitals to fill the demand for more manpower.
For now, 200 nurses will be hired by the City with 100 of them to be deployed in private hospitals while the other half will be deployed at the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) and Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC).
Ibones said as of Aug. 13, close to 40 nurses, 10 doctors and 10 pharmacists were hired by the City.
Around 20 nurses also applied for a job but refused to be assigned in hospitals, which Ibones found to be “very alarming.”
Ibones said the low number of hired medical workers was because some applicants backed out when they learned that they would be assigned in hospitals or in temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMF).
Rama urged parents to continue to implement parent supervised household lockdowns by keeping their children at home.
He also called on barangay officials to enforce health protocols and implement barangay territorial management and inter-barangay boundary management.
For Cebu’s business sector, the MECQ extension for the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu until Aug. 31 was a “bitter pill to swallow.”
“It is a bitter pill to swallow for the business community, and we are requesting for the general public’s cooperation in terms of adhering to health protocols and getting vaccinated soon, so we can get out of this trough at an earlier time,” said Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu.
Yu said the business sector is now clearly back to square one in its quest for recovery and long- term sustainability.
“It is also now more apparent that the government will need to give more support to the business sector who is the source of livelihood of the majority of the population,” he said.
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam said they had been advising members to brace themselves.
“We seek advice from the medical experts on what we need to adhere to and live out to prevent the disease from infecting us and spreading,” Taguiam said.
Filipino-Cebuano Business Club chairman Rey Calooy said the MECQ extension will again cause the closure of brick-and-mortar micro, small and medium enterprises.
This, Calooy said, would lead to more unemployment.
“What we need to do now is to fast-track our vaccinations as our MECQ is extended as a stopgap to prevent cases from rising,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police vowed to strictly implement MECQ guidelines to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
Police Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, deputy director for operation of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said they await the release of Rama’s EO.
Parilla also said CCPO personnel will be dispatched at the vicinity of the South Bus Terminal along Natalio Bacalso Ave. to apprehend drivers found overloading their buses.
The overcrowding of passengers inside public utility vehicles is believed to be one of the causes for the rise in Covid-19 cases in Cebu. / SunStar Philippines, JOB, AYB