GCQ extended in Metro Manila until end of November

Maris Federez   •   October 27, 2020   •   375

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila will remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) until November 30.

President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement in a taped address to the nation aired on Tuesday (Oct. 27), after meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

The President has also decided to keep Batangas, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Tacloban City, Iligan City and Lanao del Sur under GCQ until the end of November.

Nevertheless, local government units still have until October 28 to appeal to the IATF on the quarantine classification of their respective areas for the next month.

Metro Manila mayors have earlier stated that they want to keep the GCQ status for the NCR until the end of the year. They, however, applied eased restrictions on movement, travel, and business.

Except for Navotas City, the whole of NCR is implementing lesser curfew hours to allow more businesses to recover.

The Philippines had been under community quarantine classification since March due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. —(with details from Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Face-to-face classes will only be allowed upon Duterte, IATF approval – DepEd

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education has stressed that it will only allow the conduct of face-to-face classes upon the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the government’s policy prohibiting in-person classes will remain amid the coronavirus pandemic, although the department is looking into the possibility of reintroducing face-to-face classes next year.

She said a report to be submitted to the president on the opening of classes and DepEd’s recommendations is being finalized.

“We are preparing a report for the President on our current experience with the opening of classes, at klaro naman na kung magkaroon ng face to face, it will be very limited to areas which are absolutely safe. There will be conditions from the Department of Health; there will also be conditions coming from us. Hindi po lahat-lahat, [hindi] sabay-sabay iyan na mag-face to face, kung payag si President,” Briones said.

“At saka, depende sa approach iyan, kasi iyong number of students, etc. So we are [also] now looking into that,” she added.

The school year opened last October 5 with blended forms of learning through self-learning modules, internet and TV- and radio-based instructions.

The DepEd chief also reiterated its earlier statement that it did not approve any localized and limited face-to-face learning workshops.

“Uulitin ko, definitely not this year at definitely walang mga arrangements right now with kung sinumang mga grupo na magpi-face to face at this time because the President has not made any pronouncement at all. Pero [patuloy kaming] magri-report kami sa kaniya,” Briones said.

Meanwhile, the Education chief also directed a study on reconceptualizing learning spaces post-COVID, which include not just classroom, but homes, community spaces, and virtual space.

IATF lifts requirement for airlines to set up COVID-19 isolation areas on domestic flights

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Airline companies operating domestic flights will no longer be required to reserve a portion of the aircraft cabin as an isolation area for passengers showing symptoms of novel coronavirus disease, the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) leading the COVID-19 response said.

In a resolution approved on Thursday, the IATF said this measure “shall no longer be mandated to be part of the COVID-19 health protocols for domestic flights.”

The lifting of this requirement was upon the recommendation of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The IATF also directed local government units (LGU) to relax entry protocols such as test-upon-arrival requirement imposed upon airline crew layovers/positioning due to emergency situations which include typhoons, volcanic activities, diversions and emergency landings, and other similar unforeseen and time-sensitive evacuations.

Airline crew members are also permitted to temporarily billet in accommodation establishments under a “bubble” concept supervised by the LGUs.

“For this purpose, the DILG is instructed to coordinate with all LGUs to align their health entry protocols for this limited purpose. The CAAP is likewise instructed to supervise and police the implementation of these activities,” the resolution read.

The IATF also authorized the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to set up a corporate jet flight maintenance and crew layover hub at the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone under a strict “bubble” concept.

IATF allows on-site medical, foreign service exams and BSP survey

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) leading its COVID-19 response has allowed the conduct of on-site exams for the medical sector and foreign survey, as well as the survey by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the IATF, during its meeting on Thursday, approved the conduct of a nationwide BSP Consumer Payments Survey, and the adoption of the guidelines for the conduct of on-site, written, oral and practical specialty and subspecialty examinations issued by the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).

The task force also allowed the on-site conduct of the 2020 Foreign Service Officer Examinations on Dec. 15 to 17, 2020.

Under IATF Resolution No. 84, the IATF said the conduct of BSP survey is in accordance with Republic Act (RA) No. 11127 or the National Payments System Act as well as RA No. 11211 or the New Central Bank Act.

The IATF said such an activity is an exercise of a critical government function, and that the same had been initially approved by the Philippine Statistics Authority and duly coordinated with the League of Cities of the Philippines and the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.

“For the avoidance of doubt, enumerators of the survey activity, whether directly employed/engaged or subcontracted, shall be considered authorized persons outside of residence (APOR) and shall be permitted interzonal travel whenever performing their functions as such, pursuant to the Section [7](2)(a) of the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines,” the resolution stated.

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