Been there, done that but what’s the difference between MECQ and GCQ?
Barber shops have to close again and restaurants can’t offer dine-in services anymore, but nearly all businesses that ran under general community quarantine (GCQ) can still run under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
This is according to the list of businesses that could operate under the MECQ, which was provided by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Monday (Aug. 3) although it was the same list the DTI prepared in a circular last July 31.
For the next 15 days, Metro Manila, Laguna, Bulacan, Rizal and Cavite will return to MECQ after the medical community pleaded for the much stricter ECQ for Mega Manila.
But while the quarantine would now be relatively more restrictive, it is still not the lockdown that medical groups asked for.
Businesses will still run, essential or not, and employees will still have to go to work, although the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has again, for some reason, banned public transportation under MECQ.
Although there are many similarities between MECQ and GQC for businesses, the private sector would still likely take a hit, especially since its workers would suddenly have little to no means of going to work.
What changed? What stayed the same?
Businesses that had been recently allowed to reopen under GCQ, like gyms, barber shops, dine-in services, internet cafes, drive-in cinema, among others, are not allowed to operate in MECQ areas.
But other than these, nearly all businesses under GCQ are allowed under MECQ.
Moreover, most businesses are even allowed to operate at the same capacity they did back in GCQ which were either at least 50 percent and at most 100.
There are only a few differences in terms of the limited capacity some business activities are allowed under MECQ.
In a GCQ, all manufacturing activities could operate at full capacity. But under MECQ, only production deemed essential, like those for food, non-alcoholic drinks and disinfectants, can operate at 100 percent capacity.
Factories that churn out products that are not considered essential, like alcoholic drinks, tobacco and clothing, can operate only at 50 percent capacity under MECQ.
Mining and quarrying are allowed in MECQ and GCQ if these are for export. But these are not allowed to operate under MECQ if these are for the domestic market.
Hotels and other accommodation establishments can only have a skeletal workforces in both MECQ and GCQ. Businesses in these establishments, like restaurants, bars, gyms, and spas, are not allowed to operate in MECQ.
Real estate services can operate at 100 percent for leasing in both GCQ and MECQ. But under MECQ, other services are allowed to operate only at 50 percent capacity.
Restaurants, at 50 percent capacity, are also allowed to offer only deliveries and take-out under MECQ. They are not allowed to give dine-in services anymore.
Government frontline services in malls are allowed to keep a skeletal workforce in MECQ. Other businesses inside malls, like hardware stores, clothing, bookstores, and electronic equipment are allowed to operate in MECQ at 50 percent capacity.
Public and private construction are not allowed under MECQ, although they are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity under GCQ.
“In the challenging task of balancing health and economy, the move to place National Capital Region (NCR) and other areas under MECQ is a temporary reprieve aimed to heed the call of the medical professions,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez in a statement on Monday (Aug. 3), after initially opposing the call for a return to ECQ.
“We remain hopeful that this move back to MECQ will break the increasing trend of positive COVID-19 cases, and will eventually allow us to aid the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and bring back the much needed livelihood and jobs to many of our countrymen,” he added.
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