Labella: No to another lockdown; Cortes: It will devastate economy

AFTER Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia vowed never to allow the province to be placed on lockdown again, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has followed suit.

“We will not resort to locking down the entire city. No way will we impose a lockdown,” Labella said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

The technical advisory council of the Department of Health (DOH) central office has recommended reverting the entire island’s quarantine status to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) amid the continued rise in the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.

Active cases in the entire island totaled 5,822 on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, based on DOH 7 data.

The whole Cebu is under the more relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until the end of the month.

Labella, in a press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 23, said many more people will suffer if the national government adopts the technical advisory council’s recommendation, recalling how difficult life was when the city was under ECQ last year.

The mayor said regional health officials also saw no need to tighten Cebu’s quarantine status.

However, if barangays want to strictly enforce existing quarantine protocols and implement one-day closure of establishments, they’re allowed to do so, he said.

Labella’s counterpart in Mandaue City, Mayor Jonas Cortes, believes reverting to ECQ status will also be devastating to the economy.

“The technical advisory council of the DOH central office should give it more thought. They should think about the effect it would have not only on the people but more importantly on the economy,” Cortes said in Cebuano.

His executive secretary John Eddu Ibañez said the City and its residents have been learning to cope with the pandemic.

“We’ve been slowly opening up. To address the recent rise in cases, the City was forced to strictly implement quarantine protocols. And now they’re talking about putting us back on lockdown,” he said.

“In the opinion of the mayor, we would never survive another lockdown economically,” he said.

Under ECQ status, only essential establishments are allowed to open and public transportation is not allowed to operate.

With the return of ECQ, Ibañez said a lot of businesses will be forced to close again. This could result in more retrenchment or workers working shorter hours.

“What will happen to those who cannot afford to feed their families if they don’t have jobs?” he said.

Based on the data of the DOH 7, Cebu City had 3,151 active Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Its total number of confirmed cases has reached 16,672 with 12,795 recoveries and 726 mortalities.

Mandaue City had 757 active cases on Feb. 23.

Its has recorded 3,897 cases since the start of the health crisis with 2,959 recoveries and 181 mortalities. (JJL, KFD)