THE cities of Cebu and Mandaue will shift to the less restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ) status, while Lapu-Lapu City will shift to GCQ with heightened restrictions, on Sept. 8, 2021, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said on Monday, September 6, 2021.
They will be under these new classifications until September 30.
The tri-cities had been under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) since August 1 due to a surge in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases.
Cebu Province, under GCQ with heightened restrictions since August 1, will retain its status for the rest of the month.
Also shifting to GCQ on Sept. 8 are Metro Manila, Kalinga and Abra, Davao Oriental and the cities of Zamboanga and Iligan.
Other areas that will be under GCQ until the end of September are Benguet, Quirino, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Tarlac, Occidental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa, Aklan, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North and South Cotabato, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Lanao del Sur and the cities of Baguio, Dagupan, Santiago, General Santos and Cotabato.
Roque said, however, that this GCQ will be “stricter.”
He said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will issue new guidelines for these areas.
The provinces of Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan and Zamboanga del Sur will be under GCQ with heightened restrictions, along with Ilocos Sur, Cagayan, Quezon, Batangas, Naga City, Antique, Bacolod City, Capiz, Negros Oriental, Misamis Oriental, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, Davao Occidental and Butuan City.
To remain under MECQ are Apayao, Bataan, Bulacan, Cavite, Lucena City, Rizal, Laguna, Iloilo province, Iloilo City and Cagayan de Oro City.
The rest of the country will be under modified GCQ, the least stringent quarantine classification.
Roque said the IATF is also finalizing guidelines for the implementation of granular lockdowns in various areas to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The government earlier said it will do away with the implementation of lockdowns per province to lessen the effects on the economy.
Cebu officials urged residents to stay vigilant despite the cities’ downgrading to GCQ.
In a press briefing Monday Sept. 6, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) deputy chief implementer Joel Garganera reminded the public that Cebu City had experienced the latest surge in Covid-19 cases just last month, when hospitals and funeral homes were overwhelmed with cases and deaths.
“We have just gone through that. Councilor Dave (Tumulak) here was the one who had the road to Chong Hua Hospital closed. He had to monitor the cadavers. I just would like to appeal to the Cebuanos. We should learn our lessons. There have already been three surges, and the latest was last month that was very severe. So please, police will still exercise the enforcement of our protocol,” Garganera said in a mix of English and Cebuano.
Central Visayas had the second highest average deaths per day in August 2021 at 23.
The provinces of Cebu and Bohol and the cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu remain on Alert Level 4, the highest alert level, while Mandaue City is on Alert Level 3.
Aside from the existing guidelines from the city ordinance on following the health protocols, Garganera said they will require all clients to be partially or fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter commercial establishments that are now allowed to operate under GCQ.
These additional guidelines will be laid out in an executive order to be issued soon.
Acting Mayor Michael Rama said he had given instructions to the EOC on the guidelines that should be incorporated to prevent Covid-19 cases from rising again.
This, after Rama said he would return to his position as Cebu City vice mayor on Tuesday, Sept 7, with the return of Mayor Edgardo Labella from his leave.
Rama said he will make an assessment with the Cebu City Police Office and EOC on the implementation of the strategies they had taken to curb the spread of Covid-19.
In Mandaue City, Mayor Jonas Cortes told SunStar Cebu that his city’s downgrading to GCQ and its downtrend in Covid cases did not give it license to relax.
On Sept. 5, 2021, the Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH 7) reported that Mandaue City had 1,781 active cases. In August, the city had hit the 2,000 mark in active cases.
Cortes urged Mandaue residents to remain compliant in wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.
Also, he encouraged those who had yet to get vaccinated to get their jab now at the vaccination sites in Mandaue City so that the city could already achieve its herd immunity.
He said the public should not choose vaccine brands as no vaccine guarantees that a vaccinated person will not get infected with the virus. But it could protect vaccinated persons from getting severe conditions if infected.
The Visayas Vaccination Operations Center reported that as of September 5, 2021, Mandaue City had fully vaccinated only 40.29 percent of its eligible population.
After more than a month of MECQ restrictions, the business community in Cebu hailed the downgrading of the tri-cities’ quarantine status.
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam said the latest IATF declaration for Cebu under GCQ, may bring relief to the economy.
“Business owners are preparing for the eventual reopening. Let us all remember to be vigilant and not be complacent. Our city LGU (local government unit) has emphasized the gradual reopening of essentials like restaurants, personal service establishments like salons and barbershops and others,” he said.
Taguiam said these establishments have invested in new safety parameters and filtration systems for dine-in facilities and other services.
He also encouraged everyone to get vaccinated.
“We are elated with this new development, and we are looking forward to reviving and revitalizing the many facets of our local economy,” said Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu.
“It is our wish and hope that the situation will continue to improve as we march on to the fourth quarter,” he added. (SunStar Philippines, MVE, KFD, JOB)