MMDA to resume truck ban after NCR Plus switched to GCQ

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 14, 2021   •   346

MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will resume the truck ban in Metro Manila beginning May 17 after quarantine classifications switched to general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions.

Under the agency’s existing policy, trucks are banned from traversing along major roads in Metro Manila from Monday to Saturday 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

A total truck ban is enforced along EDSA, from Magallanes Interchange in Makati City to North Avenue in Quezon City, 24 hours a day, from Monday to Sunday.

Meanwhile, trucks carrying perishable and agricultural foodstuffs are exempted from the ban. AAC

DOT clarifies tourists of all ages from NCR Plus can still travel to Boracay until June 30

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has clarified that tourists of all ages in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus are free to travel to Boracay and other tourist destinations under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until June 30.

In a statement, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat made the clarification following reports that some tourism stakeholders may not be aware that restrictions had been relaxed, even for seniors and young travelers, since June 1. She said this would further help tourism workers to return to their jobs.

“This extended liberal movement of people will allow the DOT and local government units to revive the jobs of displaced tourism workers,” Puyat said.

The NCR Plus still remains under general community quarantine (GCQ) with varying degrees of restrictions. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) also extended its resolution to allow the movement of persons traveling in and out of NCR Plus until June 30.

The DOT said that, based on IATF Resolution 121, interzonal travel will be allowed in areas under GCQ and MGCQ for leisure purposes. However, tourists coming from Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal may only undertake point-to-point travel to GCQ and MGCQ areas

Meanwhile, Puyat urged tourism enterprises to abide by the guidelines of the IATF. This includes implementing 30% to 50% limited capacity in museums and outdoor tourist attractions.

Essential meetings and other social events such as weddings, birthday celebrations, are allowed in GCQ areas at up to 50% capacity, except for NCR and Bulacan. Essential meetings in the NCR and Bulacan will only have 30% capacity while social events will be at 10% capacity.

“The amended guidelines from the Task Force also comes with the responsibility to strictly adhere to the minimum health and safety protocols when traveling,” Puyat said. AAC 

Duterte extends GCQ with some restrictions in NCR, Bulacan

Maris Federez   •   June 14, 2021

 MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the extension of the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) classification of the National Capital Region and Bulacan from June 16 to June 30, 2021.

The president made the announcement during his pre-recorded Talk to the Nation which was aired on Monday night (June 14).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a statement, said the extension of GCQ in Metro Manila and Bulacan comes with some restrictions.

Roque also said that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) also placed the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal in Region 4-A under GCQ with heightened restrictions from June 16 to June 30.

Other areas under GCQ are Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Abra, and Benguet in the Cordillera Administrative Region; Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino in Region 2; Batangas and Quezon in Region 4-A; Iligan City in Region 10; Davao del Norte in Region 11; General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Cotabato, and South Cotabato in Region 12; and Lanao del Sur and Cotabato City in BARMM, the statement said.

Meanwhile, areas that shall be placed under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) from June 16 to June 30 are the City of Santiago and Cagayan in Region 2; Apayao and Ifugao in the Cordillera Administrative Region; Bataan in Region 3; Lucena City in Region4-A; Puerto Princesa in Region 4-B; Naga City in Region 5; and Iloilo City and Iloilo in Region 6.

Other areas under MECQ are Negros Oriental in Region 7; Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga del Norte in Region 9; Cagayan de Oro City in Region 10; Davao City in Region 11; and Butuan City, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, and Surigao del Sur in CARAGA.

According to the palace official, the rest of the country shall be placed under Modified General Community Quarantine on the aforementioned dates.

“On another matter, the President approved the extension of travel restrictions imposed upon India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, and Oman starting June 16 to June 30, 2021,” Roque said.

 

Various groups divided on relaxing quarantine restrictions in NCR Plus 8

Marje Pelayo   •   June 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups are not in full agreement on the proposed relaxation of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, and the provinces of Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal or the NCR Plus 8.

For its part, labor group ALU-TUCP said downgrading quarantine classifications would be favorable as it would resume office and on-site works.

However, the group said the implementation of health and safety protocol must be strictly observed and maintained in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Nangangamba kami ng baka bumalik na uli tayo doon sa napakaraming mga kababayan natin at nakaparaming bilang ng mga manggagawa ang mahawa sa coronavirus disease,” said ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay.

“Nakita natin doon sa mga bus terminal halimbawa sunod-sunod ang mga araw na ang daming mga manggagawa ang nakapila. Naba-violate ang mga safety protocols natin,” he added.

Meanwhile, employers are concerned about how prepared the government is should the COVID-19 cases surge, specifically in terms of mass testing, isolation, and treatment of patients. If that happened, they said hospitals would be overwhelmed anew.

“Kung magluluwag at babalik na naman dito at maghahabol na naman sila, iyon ang problema. Sayang ang pagluluwag at delikado pagka ganun,” argued Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr, president of Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP).

“Pero kami talagang gusto namin tuloy- tuloy ang pagluwag dahil hirap na hirap na ating ekonomiya at ang ating mga kababayan,” he added.

Private hospitals are still struggling with the current number of COVID-19 patients.

The Private Hospitals Association Philippines (PHAPI) said it could agree with the easing of quarantine restrictions provided that the minimum health standards are strictly imposed.

“Halos wala na masyado na talagang critical occupancy, bumabalik na tayo doon sa dati. Medyo tumataas pa rin nang konti doon sa below high risk, “ said Dr. Jose Rene De Grano, PHAPI President.

The Department of Health (DOH), on the other hand, said they have no records at present of any hospital having a high utilization rate of its intensive care unit (ICU).

“Pero sa ngayon nakikita natin iyong ating mga ospital sa Metro manila ay manageable lahat at wala pang risk level na mataas at lahat ay nakapag- decongest na from the last surge that we’ve had,” noted Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Former Special Adviser of the National Task Force against COVID-19 Dr. Tony Leachon, in the meantime, suggested that the government should observe the situation on the ground first before deciding on relaxing restrictions.

He noted that COVID-19 cases in NCR Plus are still high and other regions like Western Visayas, Davao and Zamboanga are also experiencing the spike.

It would be better, he said, to heighten border controls in between cities or regions to curb COVID transmissions.

“Kung luluwag tayo sa Maynila yun na nga lang inaasahan natin tapos babagsak din together with the other Western Visayas and Mindanao areas, ang hirap naman Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao meron kang three epicenters,” Leachon explained.

Experts from the OCTA Research Group also support the extension of a much stricter quarantine restriction in the NCR Plus 8 area.

“In the NCR, the GCQ must continue with stricter monitoring and compliance to minimum public health standards. Given the downward trends, further calibrated easing of restrictions for certain businesses can be considered provided these establishments comply with health and safety protocols of the government,” the group said in a statement.

“Further, the national government needs to accelerate implementation of the NCR plus vaccination plan,” it said. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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