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In Cebu City, 500 nabbed for quarantine breach

City now under GCQ, but local gov’t still observing strict health protocols

SEMINAR Quarantine violators gather at Plaza Independencia in Cebu City where they are asked to attend a seminar on safety rules and participate in exercise drills. —RAQUEL ARCE/Contributor

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Police have arrested at least 500 people here for violating quarantine protocols since the city reverted to a general community quarantine (GCQ) status on Saturday.

The violators, however, were neither detained nor fined. Instead, they were taken to Plaza Independencia where they attended seminars about the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and were asked to render a few hours of community service.

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OrdinanceSome had gone out of their houses without quarantine passes, while others violated the curfew and the mandatory wearing of face masks in public.According to Councilor Dave Tumulak, a city ordinance penalizing quarantine violators has yet to be implemented pending its publication in newspapers and the 15-day period required before the local measure takes effect.

Tumulak said local policemen might have used national laws, such as Republic Act No. 11332 or the law on reporting of communicable diseases, in apprehending violators.

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When Cebu City was placed under GCQ on Aug. 1, 484 quarantine violators were arrested by policemen and 86 more the next day.

Once the ordinance is enforced, violators will be slapped with a fine of P3,000 for the first offense, P5,000 for the second and P10,000 for the third.

Anyone found guilty by the court may face a month of imprisonment aside from paying a fine.

The ordinance, which imposes physical distancing, prohibition on mass gatherings and mandatory use of face masks in public, also cancels the business permits of establishments found violating health measures.

Appeal

Tumulak appealed to the public to continue following basic health protocols to contain the spread of the virus.

“We do not want a repeat of what happened last June when we shifted back to the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ),” he said.

President Duterte on July 31 decided to ease the city’s quarantine status from modified ECQ to GCQ as the number of COVID-19 infections had gone down over the past weeks.

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Mayor Edgardo Labella said strict measures would still be implemented even if the city had been placed under GCQ.

As of Sunday, Cebu City had recorded 9,075 cases of COVID-19. At least 2,946 of the cases are considered active, with 5,609 recoveries and 520 deaths, according to the Department of Health.

Reports from Dale Israel, Nestle Semilla and Ador Vincent Mayol

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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: Cebu City GCQ, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, quarantine violations
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