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August 18, 2020

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal Back To GCQ Starting Aug. 19

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal Back To GCQ Starting Aug. 19

Quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces will be eased but strategies against the pandemic should be "refreshed" to contain the spread of the virus while reopening the economy.

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, which were placed under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4 to 18, will be downgraded to the more lenient general community quarantine (GCQ), President Duterte announced in a televised address on Monday night, Aug. 17.

Other areas that were under GCQ since Sunday, Aug. 16, were Batangas, Quezon, Nueva Ecija, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Lapu Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City and the municipalities of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu.

Read more: LIST: Areas Under GCQ Starting Aug. 16

The rest of country will be under the most lenient modified general community quarantine.

The new quarantine classifications for Metro Manila and the four nearby provinces will take effect from Aug. 19 to 31.

"The recommendation is to place NCR (National Capiral Region), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, anmd Rizal under GCQ. It will be more lenient, more industries will be allowed to operate," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

"The economy will be opened but the response should be refreshed," he added.

Under GCQ, public transportation will be permitted and gatherings will be allowed partially provided health measures are observed.

Roque said the government would intensify contact tracing, isolation, testing and treatment to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) despite the reopening of the economy.

Earlier, Metro Manila mayors have recommended the easing of the quarantine classification of the capital region but have also called for strict measures aimed at containing the virus.

Roque said the mayors were in favor of placing Metro Manila under the more relaxed GCQ but it should not be as lenient as the scenario before the imposition of the MECQ.

The government placed Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal under MECQ from Aug. 4 to 18 after medical associations called on the government to impose a two-week lockdown in Mega Manila so it can enhance its strategies against the pandemic.

The capital region and the four nearby provinces, which contribute about two thirds of the country's economic output, used to be under GCQ. Before the imposition of MECQ, the government allowed some non-essential businesses to resume operations in GCQ areas as it sought to revive the pandemit-hit economy while safeguarding public health.

"I can confirm that the recommendation of mayors is GCQ but the GCQ that was implemented in June, which is stricter than the eventual GCQ being implemented now. The IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease) listened to them intently and it will be incorporated in their recommendation to the President," Roque said.

"Let’s just say , the recommendation of the IATF and Metro Manila mayors to the President was unanimous," he added.

Roque noted that Metro Manila constitutes one geographic unit and should remain under a single classification.

"The classification was thoroughly discussed by the IATF and it was based on what we call the case doubling rate, the clusters of COVID cases in different areas and the critical care capacity," Roque said.

"Now, so far, our case doubling rate has not worsened and as of…Aug. 17, we inaugurated a 250-bed capacity at the East Avenue Medical Center that will cater exclusively to COVID patients. Our critical care capacity improved and is no longer in the danger level," he added.

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