IATF expands services in salons, barbershops amid COVID-19 pandemic

Maris Federez   •   July 7, 2020   •   333

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 has expanded the services allowed in salons and barbershops in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Aside from haircut services, hair treatments are now allowed in salons under the GCQ areas; while nail care, basic facial care services, and basic personal care services will be allowed in areas under MGCQ.

Nevertheless, minimum public health standards will be strictly implemented in both GCQ and MGCQ areas, such as strict protocol on hand sanitation, face mask and face shields, gloves, and sterilized equipment.

The operating capacity in salons and barbershops will also be expanded to 50 percent in GCQ areas and 75 percent in MGCQ areas starting July 16, 2020. —(with details from Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Duterte reverts NCR, nearby areas to MECQ beginning Tuesday, August 4

Maris Federez   •   August 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has placed Metro Manila and other high-risk areas back to a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status for 15 days, that will take effect on Tuesday, August 4, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continuing threat.

On Sunday night’s televised briefing, Duterte said the National Capital Region, Bulacan, and the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal in Region 4-A will be under the MECQ until August 18.

As proposed by the taskforce, healthcare workers would also be provided additional benefits, as follows:

  • risk allowance for private sector healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients
  • the amount of 10 to 15,000 pesos for every healthcare worker that gets sick
  • life insurance
  • free accommodation
  • free transportation, and
  • free and frequent testing

Malacañang said that the president, likewise, approved the hiring of additional healthcare workers to augment the current workforce, including the hiring of 10,000 medical professionals and call them to active duty and enlistment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The chief executive also approved the Cabinet’s recommendation to issue work and quarantine passes to minimize movement.

Duterte also directed the local government units (LGUs) and the COVID-19 CODE Teams to intensify the localized lockdown strategy and the implementation of Oplan Kalinga.

Malacañang said the guidelines for minimum health standards will also be strictly enforced and intensified while giving twenty million face masks for the poor.

The president has also approved the use of RT-PCT testing as the gold standard.

On August 1, several groups of doctors and medical practitioners have asked for a time-out and for Metro Manila to return to an ECQ status for two weeks to give them time to rest and “recalibrate strategies” against the disease.

On June 1, Malacañang ordered placing Metro Manila and other areas from MECQ to a less strict general community quarantine (GCQ) although the cases of the fatal disease in the region and other key areas have been continually rising.

Under the general community quarantine, businesses in Metro Manila were allowed to open and more modes of public transportation were able to operate in limited capacity.

On Sunday (August 2), 5,032 new infections were added to the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines pushing the total number to 103,185. — /mbmf

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IATF to allow partial opening of gyms, internet cafes, aesthetic services starting August 1

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the partial opening of more business establishments in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified (GCQ) starting August 1, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Wednesday.

According to IATF Resolution No. 59, establishments in GCQ areas that are offering aesthetic services, gyms, fitness centers and sports facilities, internet cafes, personal grooming, pet grooming, testing and tutorial centers as well as review centers and drive-in cinemas will be allowed to operate up to 30 percent of capacity.

The DTI, however, clarified that gyms with contact sports such as karate and boxing are not covered by the measure.

In areas under MGCQ, limited operations will be allowed for establishments offering full body massage, live events, entertainment industries, libraries, archives, museums and cultural centers, and tourist destinations, as well as driving, and dance/acting/voice schools.

The DTI said these businesses will be allowed to partially operate as long as mandatory health protocols, such as physical distancing and sanitation, are followed.

Meanwhile, Malacañang reiterated on Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte will make announcements this week about the new community quarantine classification that will be implemented in August.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president is set to meet with the IATF on Thursday to discuss its recommendations.

Roque also said that aside from the new community quarantine restrictions, the public should also await the “major changes” that will be implemented in the government’s response to COVID-19 pandemic.

The Palace official earlier said that these changes, which will include massive testing, “invigorated” tracing, and creation of more quarantine facilities, will focus more on the policies to contain the public health crisis. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

IATF urged anew to reconsider rule on motorcycle barriers for riding couples

Robie de Guzman   •   July 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. on Monday reiterated his appeal to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to reconsider its policy on the use of barriers for motorcycle riding couples.

In a statement, Revilla said the IATF should heed the sentiments of riders, several engineers and other experts on the mandatory installation of barriers in motorcycles due to concerns on safety, aerodynamics and maneuverability for riders.

“Napakarami po sa ating mga kababayan ang mismong nagsasabi na nahihirapan silang magbalanse at mag-maneuver ng kanilang motorsiklo dahil sa divider,” he said.

The senator suggested that the IATF conduct a comprehensive consultation among motorcycle manufacturers and experts to come up with better guidelines that will protect motorcycle riders from obtaining COVID-19 and at the same time, spare them from any road mishaps.

“Sa hirap po ng buhay ngayon lalo na’t marami sa ating mga kababayan ang walang hanapbuhay at pambili ng divider, napipilitan silang mag-improvise ng sarili nilang barricade. Mas nalalagay tuloy sa alanganin ang ating mga kababayan lalo na kung yung improvised na divider nila ay hindi matibay ang pagkakakabit, marupok ang materyales, o di kaya’y kulang o sobra sa bigat,” he said.

Revilla renewed his call after Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield Commander, announced on July 18 that the government is extending the deadline for the installation of motorcycle barriers from July 19 to July 26.

Eleazar earlier said that the deadline was moved to give more time for motorcycle riders to install barriers based on the two designs approved by the task force.

“Gusto natin kasi na maka-comply sila, mabigyan ng mahaba pang oras para doon sa mga design na inilabas ng National Task Force. At ‘yon nga din ang panawagan n’ong iba na pwede makahinga ng extension pati na rin itong naglabas ng design at sa Angkas, sinasabi nga nila mas maganda siguro na mas makarami na maka-avail n’ong design na inilabas nila,” Eleazar said.

He said that after July 26, they will apprehend those who will violate the new rule.

Since the task force announced the policy allowing pillion riding in motorcycle for couples on July 10, authorities have monitored more than 7,000 violators in various parts of the country. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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