On Apr. 24, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque announced the Palace’s decision on new quarantine measures based on recommendations from the Inter-Agency Task Force during an online briefing
The enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for selected areas is extended until May 15, especially in places with high numbers of cases.
This includes the National Capital Region, Regions III and IV-A, Pangasinan, Benguet, Mindoro, Albay, Catanduanes, Antique, Iloilo, Cebu, Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro and Davao City.
Whether or not it will be extended again depends on the situation once more which will be evaluated on May 16. Despite being in the list of high-risk areas for now, Benguet, Pangasinan, Tarlac and Zambales will also be subject for “re-checking”, which means their statuses may still be revised, by April 30.
Meanwhile, regions, provinces or areas all over the country which have moderate to low risks for COVID-19 infection will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) instead. With this, some restrictions may be lifted in such areas—including a 100 percent reopening of industries like agriculture, food manufacturing and retail, healthcare and telecommunications, 50 to 100 percent reopening of repair and maintenance services, electronics and exports manufacturing, e-commerce and delivery businesses, and a 50 percent work from home and 50 percent on-site work arrangement for employees in financial services, business process outsourcing and other non-leisure services in moderate to low-risk areas.
Limited non-leisure shops in malls, priority and essential construction projects will also be allowed to resume regular operations, while schools will still remain fully closed. Moreover, Roque said that schools must consider opening the school year as late as September except for online classes.
Those aged 0-20 and 60 and up plus those who pose a high health risk are still ordered to remain at home as well. Meanwhile, non-workers will be allowed to go out to buy goods, with an imposition of curfew at night by local government units. Public transportation will also be allowed to operate at a reduced capacity.
Areas under GCQ which are still subject to review are the following: Abra, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Marinduque, Camarines Sur, Aklan, Capiz, Samar, Western Samar, Zamboanga Del Sur, Lanao Del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Maguindanao.
Meanwhile, areas under GCQ already considered under moderate risk are Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Davao Del Sur, Davao Oriental, Sultan Kudarat and Lanao Del Sur.
Lastly, areas considered under “low risk” are Apayao, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga, Ilocos Sur, Batanes, Quirino, Aurora, Palawan, Romblon, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate, Guimaras, Bohol, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga Del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Davao Occidental, Saranggani, Agusan Del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao Del Norte, Surigao Del Sur, Agusan Del Norte, Basilan and Sulu.
Air and seaports will also be opened in ECQ and GCQ areas, but only for trade products. The government will also look into the reprioritization of cash subsidies for areas in GCQ to areas in ECQ, as well.
Guidelines will be made by the Department of Health for testing, the Department of Transportation for travel, the Department of Labor and Employment for labor, the Department of Public Works and Highways for infrastructure and the Department of Trade and Industry for businesses. The deadline for these guidelines is on Apr. 25, and it will be set for implementation on Apr. 27.
Meanwhile, Duterte threatened to declare martial law if attacks from the New People’s Army towards those delivering aid, as well as lawlessness, would continue.
Finance secretary Sonny Dominguez also said that P352.7 billion from the P4.1 trillion budget for 2020 has already been spent due to COVID-19.
“What Sonny (Dominguez) is telling for us is that there’s money, for now,” said President Duterte. He added that if additional funding is needed, all that needs to be done is inform Health secretary Francisco Duque III. He said that he would “rather spend all our money in connection with COVID-19” including the discovery of cure and assistance.
The president also raised the “bounty” for any Filipino who would discover a cure for COVID-1 from the P10 million he set earlier this week to P50 million.
Header photo from the Presidential Communications Operations office
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Writer: YANN MAGCAMIT