Metro Manila, Nine Other Areas Under GCQ In March
As directed by President Duterte, the entire Philippines won’t be under modified general community quarantine unless there is a rollout of vaccines for COVID-19.
UPDATED: Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. announced on Saturday, Feb. 27, that Metro Manila and nine other areas will be under general community quarantine (GCQ) for the entire month of March to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). These include:
2. Baguio City
4. Mt. Province
6. Tacloban City
7. Iligan City
8. Davao City
9. Lanao del Sur
The rest of the country will be under modified GCQ (MGCQ), according to Roque.
Earlier, President Duterte rejected the recommendation of the Metro Manila mayors and the National Economic Development Authority to place the entire country under MCGQ beginning March to revive the economy.
Duterte said the Philippines would not be under MGCQ “unless there is a rollout of vaccines" for COVID-19.
He also thumbed down the proposal to allow the resumption of face-to-face classes in areas with zero or low COVID-19 transmission.
Open to MGCQ shift
On Sunday, Feb. 28, Duterte said he is ready to further reopen the economy as the Philippines is about to start its vaccination program, but continues to oppose the holding of in-person classes, believing it will place the lives of students at risk.
In his first press conference since the COVID-19 pandemic, Duterte explained he would lift restrictions to encourage business activity once the Philippines gets an adequate supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
"I am considering it. Actually... I will open it because there are two things that are really bugging us. It is the economy and COVID-19. Our economy is really down, as in down so the earlier the vaccine (rollout), the better," Duterte said when asked if he was willing to place Metro Manila under the most lenient MGCQ.
"Once the rollout begins and other vaccines come in and distribute it to the provinces...we will have a million (doses) by this month, we will have a stock of two million, I will lift it (restrictions). I will open the economy. We are really facing difficulties," he added.
Duterte noted he would also ease quarantine restrictions "if the vaccine is available to anybody for one reason or another," if jabs are distributed in provinces, and if the Philippines secures about 20 to 40 million shots.
"People have to eat. People have to work. People have to pay for their upkeep and the only way to do it is to open the economy and for businesses to regrow. Without that, patay talaga, mahihirapan tayo (we're done. qe will face difficulties), the President said.
Back to normal in 2023?
Asked when the Philippines would return to normal, Duterte said it may happen within 2023. "Not in ...Early in the first, maybe first or second quarter of year…2023, maybe, with God's help."
The President, however, is not yet inclined to allow the holding of face-to-face classes even if the Philippines already has vaccines.
"Huwag muna ‘yun (not yet), not now... I cannot make that decision. It will place the children in jeopardy," Duterte said.
"I'm not ready to lose the lives of our young people, our children," he added.
The government was supposed to hold a dry-run of face-to-face classes in low-risk areas in January but Duterte postponed it because of the emergence of a more infectious COVID-19 variant in the country. – With Alexis Romero