Despite the risk, Metro Manila downgraded to GCQ from September 8 photo from Rappler
Safety Protocol

Despite the risk, Metro Manila downgraded to GCQ from September 8

Sep 6, 2021, 11:08 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

The national pandemic task force has approved a recommendation to place Metro Manila under general community quarantine (GCQ) but this would involve a new system of granular lockdowns where Covid-19 infections are high.

Despite a consistently high number of COVID-19 cases daily, Metro Manila was placed under general community quarantine, or the most relaxed quarantine system, from September 8 to 30.

Guidelines are yet to be released but it will involve limiting hard lockdowns to small pockets so that the rest of Metro Manila can remain open to some degree, said Malacañang.

The national pandemic task force has approved a recommendation to place Metro Manila under general community quarantine (GCQ) but this would involve a new system of granular lockdowns where Covid-19 infections are high, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Metro Manila, the country's pandemic epicenter and premier economic hub, will serve as pilot of the system, he added.

"The guidelines will be released, at the latest, tomorrow," said Duterte’s spokesman.

Granular lockdowns

Roque said that granular lockdowns could be declared by mayors or governors and could be limited to as small a unit as a street or barangay, rather than an entire city or province. (See also: Better than MECQ? IATF okays granular lockdowns in NCR starting September 8 )

"We’re going to have restaurants and up to 10 percent [allowed capacity for] religious gatherings," said Roque.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Benhur Abalos, who is involved in coming up with this new system, told Rappler some aspects of the localized lockdowns.

Abalos said these can still change, however, based on the final guidelines.

According to Abalos, the new system would involve four "levels" that ranges from more relaxed to successively stricter sets of rules that could be declared over specific cities or areas in Metro Manila.

Abalaos likened these to storm signals.

It would still be the Department of Health that would declare what level cities are in, depending on the presence of more transmissible variants, rise in Covid-19 cases, and health care utilization rate (how full the hospitals are).

Cities would also have more flexibility to allow most industries to remain open, with changes in allowed venue capacity limited to the types of establishments that are riskiest – gyms, spas, venues for meetings or conferences, religious venues, restaurants, and the like.

Such discretionary powers can be subject to favoritism and abuse. Those that are nearest to the highest local officials may be able to operate, even when there are infections in their areas.

The point of the new system is to give Metro Manila mayors more independence and flexibility given the quickly changing dynamics of the pandemic.

It would also allow more industries or establishments to remain open, thus providing more stability to the economy.

The official said the system is being piloted in Metro Manila partly because of its comparatively high vaccination rates compared to the rest of the country.

Close to 45 percent of Metro Manila residents have already been vaccinated.

Tags: #MetroManila, #quarantineclassifications, #generalcommunityquarantine, #Covid19, #granularlockdown


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