LIST: Businesses allowed to open under general community quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 29, 2020   •   3643

MANILA, Philippines – Some business establishments will soon be allowed to open under a relaxed form of community quarantine as the Philippine government seeks to soften the economic losses brought about by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In the guidelines released by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), it listed the industries, and establishments that can open, as well as activities that may resume under the general community quarantine (GCQ).

The business sectors that will be allowed to operate with minimum health standards under GCQ starting May 1 are the following:

  • Manufacturing activities involving alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; cement and steel; electrical machinery; wood products; furniture; non-metallic products; textiles or wearing apparels; tobacco products; paper and paper products; rubber and plastic products; coke and refined petroleum products; other non-metallic mineral products; computer, electronic and optical products; electrical equipment; machinery and equipment; motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers; other transport equipment; and others
  • Malls and commercial centers: hardware stores, clothing and accessories, and non-leisure stores
  • Barbershops, salon, spas, and other personal care industries with strict health standards
  • Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
  • Forestry and logging
  • Publishing activities
  • Motion picture, video and television program production, sound recording and music publishing activities
  • Advertising and market research
  • Real estate activities, except buying and selling
  • Office administrative, office support, and other business activities
  • Legal and accounting
  • Insurance, reinsurance, and pension funding, except compulsory social security
  • Architecture and engineering activities, technical testing and analysis
  • Scientific and research development
  • Other professional, scientific and technical activities
  • Social work activities without accommodation
  • Government frontline offices: all offices will be allowed to open

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that all government offices will be allowed to open under the GCQ to serve the public.

Other business sectors will also be permitted to operate but are directed to implement safety and sanitization measures to ensure the health and protection of their employees as previously emphasized by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Meanwhile, businesses that will remain closed under GCQ and enhanced community quarantine are the following:

  • Gyms, fitness studios and sports facilities
  • Entertainment-related mass gatherings, including but not limited to: theaters, cinemas, large concerts, festivals, carnivals, conventions, shows, pubs, bars
  • Business-related mass gatherings, including but not limited to: trade shows, conferences, conventions, workshops, retreats
  • Politically-related mass gatherings, including but not limited to: election rallies, polling centers, parades, speeches, addresses
  • Sports-related mass gatherings, including but not limited to: trainings, games, tournaments, championships
  • Libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural activities
  • Gambling and betting activities
  • Travel agency, tour operator, reservation service and related activities
  • Activities of membership organizations

Roque, however, stressed that this list is still being finalized. The IATF will be meeting on Wednesday on the matter.

Universities and colleges in GCQ areas may also be allowed to operate under a skeleton workforce by May 4 but to only formally conclude the Academic Year 2019-2020, issue credentials to students, and prepare flexible learning arrangements for the next academic year. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Palace on MECQ extension: Health-economy balance needed

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 10, 2020

Amid requests for extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), Malacañang said it is up to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) to decide if an extension is necessary.

In a statement on Monday (August 10), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said a balance between health and the country’s economy is needed while fighting against the pandemic.

“On the suggestion to make the MECQ effective for one month, this is a decision that has to be made by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID). It entails a delicate balancing of protecting and saving people’s health to protecting and saving the economic health of the nation,” Roque said.

Former Special Adviser to National Task Force Against Covid-19 Dr. Anthory Leachon said that in order to flatten the curve, MECQ in NCR and other provinces should be extended to one month.

“Kung talagang MECQ ang gusto nila, isagad nila ng isang buwan, tapos ibuild-up na iyong healthcare capacity. Magpa-flatten tayo ng curve, (If they really want MECQ, they should extend it for a month then build up healthcare capacity. We might flatten the curve),” Leachon said in a statement.

Meanwhile, several members of the IATF and Cabinet members will fly to Davao City for a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Metro Manila may ease to GCQ after August 18 – Lorenzana

Robie de Guzman   •   August 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who also serves as the chairman of the National Task Force on COVID-19, on Monday expressed confidence that the National Capital Region (NCR) will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) after August 18.

Lorenzana said that recent data on COVID-19 cases show that Metro Manila is ready to loosen its coronavirus lockdown after its two-week return to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) restriction.

He said the trend is “going down” after the Department of Health reported around 3,000 additional cases on Sunday.

Lorenzana said this number is lower compared to the 6,000 increase in recent days.

Metro Manila, as well as Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal were placed under MECQ until August 18 after medical workers appealed for a “timeout” amid rising COVID-19 cases.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año also expressed optimism that the re-imposition of a stricter quarantine measure, coupled with the observance of health protocols, will slow down the transmission of coronavirus disease in the country

“Titingnan natin yung figures pero ako, I am optimistic na with the 15 days MECQ, bababa yan. Ang kailangan lang ay sumunod. Huwag na tayong maging pasaway, stay at home,” he said.

He also reiterated his appeal to the public to be responsible and strictly follow advise to only leave their homes for essential needs.

“With 15 days staying at home marami tayong virus diyan na mapapatay kasi incubation period or 14 days talaga namang mamamatay yung virus. Bago pa makalipat sa ibang tao mamatay na yung virus. So please do your partnering,” he said.  – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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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