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July 16, 2020

Metro Manila Remains Under GCQ; Cebu City Placed Under MECQ; School Opening Still On Aug. 24

Metro Manila Remains Under GCQ; Cebu City Placed Under MECQ; School Opening Still On Aug. 24 Members of the Manila Police District rescue some children roaming the streets of Tondo on July 15, 2020. The city has an ordinance restricting the movement of children due to the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with the policy of the national government. Photo by Edd Gumban, The Philippine STAR

Quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila will not be tightened in the next two weeks while Cebu City will be downgraded to a more lenient lockdown scenario, Malacañang said Wednesday, July 15.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Metro Manila, which accounts for nearly half of the Philippines' more than 58,000 coronavirus disease 2019 cases, would remain under general community quarantine until July 31.

He revealed that experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) had recommended that the National Capital Region be placed under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to contain the spread of the virus.

Duterte had agreed to tighten restrictions in Metro Manila but changed his mind after coronavirus policy chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año urged him to reconsider his decision. 

Roque said the Metro Manila mayors gave assurances that they would intensify localized lockdowns as well as testing, tracing and treatment of COVID-19 patients. The mayors, who suggested “hybrid” GCQ also promised to strictly implement the quarantine restrictions in their areas of jurisdiction.

“Hybrid” GCQ means the movement of people will be restricted but economic activities will continue, provided that the private sector, including businesses, will take “equal responsibility” for containing the spread of the virus.

"It was made clear in the discussions that if the spread of COVID is not contained, Metro Manila may revert to MECQ after two weeks," Roque said.

Cebu City, meanwhile, will be downgraded from the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to modified ECQ or MECQ, wherein selected industries are allowed to partially operate but public transportation remains suspended. Officials have claimed that the lockdown measures have slowed virus transmission in Cebu City, which was reverted to ECQ on June 16 due to the rising cases of COVID-19.

Other areas that will be under GCQ until the end of the month are Laguna, Cavite and Rizal in Luzon; Lapu Lapu City, Mandaue City, Ormoc City, Southern Leyte, Talisay, Minglanilla, and Consolacion in the Visayas; and Zamboanga City, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, and Basilan in Mindanao.

Areas that will be under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) medium risk are:

• Benguet and Baguio City in Cordillera Administrative Region

• Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Dagupan City in the Ilocos region 

• Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya in Cagayan Valley

• Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Zambales, and Angeles City in Central Luzon

• Batangas, Quezon, and Lucena City in Calabarzon; Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, and Puerto Princesa City in Mimaropa

• Albay, Masbate, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, and Naga City in Bicol

• Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, Iloilo City, and Bacolod City in Western Visayas

• Negros Oriental, Bohol, and Cebu province in Central Visayas; Western Samar, Leyte, Biliran, and Tacloban City in Eastern Visayas

• Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Zamboanga del Norte in Zamboanga Peninsula

• Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro City, and Iligan City in Northern Mindanao

• Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao de Oro, and Davao City in Davao region

 •  Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, South Cotabato, and General Santos City in Soccsksargen

• Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao in the Bangsamoro region

Areas under MGCQ medium risk are required to follow zoning containment strategies and should strictly implement local health and containment measures. The rest of the country are considered low-risk areas and will remain under a more lenient MGCQ until July 31.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones reiterated on Wednesday that the opening of classes for school year 2020-2021 will push through on Aug. 24  with schools in different regions implementing their own form of blended learning. 

“Kanya-kanyang diskarte, kanya-kanyang adjust. Depende kung ano’ng available na paraan. Pero ang bottomline, patuloy ang pag-aaral ng mga bata,” she said. 

Republic Act No. 7977 mandates that the school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

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