Gov’t to issue clear guidelines on mass gatherings, travel exemptions of M.Manila quarantine

Marje Pelayo   •   March 13, 2020   •   1073

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is yet discuss the concrete details of the recently declared community quarantine in Metro Manila set to take effect at midnight of March 15.

The discussions will include travel restrictions to and from Metro Manila once the order runs from March 15 to April 14.

According to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, they have yet to decide on who will be exempted from the travel restrictions to and from Metro Manila from both the government and private sectors.

These would include patients, workers from both public and private as well as government officials provided that they can present proper identification.

Nograles admits the details on the travel restriction need to be polished.

Another important issue that needs detailed provisions would be the restriction on mass gatherings which the government expects to obtain the cooperation of religious organizations.

“We will provide more details about these later, particularly as regards masses and worship services and religious gatherings. Alam namin na malaking adjustment ito para sa atin dito sa Metro Manila,” Cabienet Secretary Nograles said.

“But we ask everyone to cooperate because the consequences of allowing these gatherings during this crucial time could be more painful in the long run,” he added.

Meanwhile, local government units within the National Capital Region (NCR) are given the authority to impose localized community quarantine if they have two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in two of their respective barangays based on the resolution issued by the Task Force. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Metro Manila may transition to GCQ after May 31 —Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   May 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 hopes to come up with a decision on whether to extend or lift the existing modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and other areas in the country after May 31.

Malacañang sees a greater chance of transitioning from MECQ to general community quarantine (GCQ) come June 1 as recommended by National Task Force on COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

“They gave their recommendation to the IATF but I can quote both of them, chances are we will in fact be transitioning to GCQ in Metro Manila according to the chief implementer and the DILG secretary,” noted Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque. 

The Metro Manila Council (MMC), likewise, recommended to the IATF to place the National Capital Region (NCR) to GCQ.

If that is so, public transport will be allowed but only on a limited capacity to ensure that minimum health standards are observed. 

Meanwhile, Roque appealed to both the public and private sectors to finalize their work schemes following the 50% operational capacity wherein half of the total number of employees will be working on site and half  will be working from home.

“We are appealing to both the private and public sector to ensure at least 50-50 workforce,” Roque said. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Walking for hours to reach work, home shouldn’t be part of ‘new normal’, Poe says

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday called on the government to provide assistance to employees who are walking for kilometers from home to work and vice versa due to the still limited public transportation means amid the quarantine.

In a statement, Poe lamented reports on employees having to walk for hours to reach their workplaces and go home after the government eased the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last May 16.

While the senator acknowledged the workers’ commitment and perseverance, she said this “must not be part of the ‘new normal’” amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

“There’s no doubt about the commitment and perseverance of our workers to return to work to provide income for their families and help shore up businesses sidelined by the pandemic,” she said.

“But the daily commute and walk must not exact a toll on our workers — exposing them to the dangers in the streets and unfavorable weather conditions,” she added.

Some workers reportedly struggled to reach their workplaces on Monday when businesses and offices resumed partial operations after Metro Manila was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Poe said the government should do all it can to “alleviate the daily sufferings of our workers in getting to work” as public transportation services remain limited.

The senator also stressed that the “no work, no pay” employees will be most affected by this situation.

“Especially woeful are the situation of no-work, no-pay employees, who will not earn anything for the day if they fail to show up, or will be meted with deductions if they come late,” she said.

Under the MECQ guidelines issued by the government, select business establishments and offices have been allowed to resume half of their operations with limited workforce. Skeleton workforce and work from home arrangements may also be implemented.

The Department of Trade and Industry earlier urged employers who were allowed to resume operations to provide shuttle services to their employees.

Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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