Metro Manila mayors want quarantine until end of 2020 | Inquirer News

Metro Manila mayors want quarantine until end of 2020

By: - Reporter / @MegINQ
/ 04:53 AM October 20, 2020

OLD NORMAL As mass transport expands operations to accommodate more commuters on Monday, the line of LRT 1 riders gets familiarly long at the Taft Avenue station in Manila. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, Philippines — The mayors of Metro Manila want the metropolis to remain under general community quarantine up to the end of the year because there is no need to ease the current restrictions since the government is already allowing a gradual reopening of businesses.

Jose Arturo Garcia, general manager of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, told a press briefing on Monday that it did not matter whether the current curbs were maintained or relaxed as long as the country adjusted certain measures while observing public health standards.


Garcia, however, said the mayors’ recommendation would depend on the coronavirus infection trend in Metro Manila.

“The mayors want to reopen the economy, but only gradually. It would be difficult for them if we only apply adjustments when we are put under [modified general community quarantine] with full capacities in establishments,” he said.


Rules already eased

In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that even if the current restrictions were kept in place, certain rules had already been relaxed to allow more businesses to resume operations.

The recent easing of restrictions stemmed from a downward trend in coronavirus infections and the need to allow people to work for a living, Roque said.

“It’s a combination of the fact that the indicators are getting better and the fact that the reality is there is a need for jobs, because while we remain closed there would be no livelihood for many of our countrymen,” he said.

But the decision on the Metro mayors’ recommendation, he said, would be up to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the government’s coronavirus response policy-making body.

As for the mayors’ curfew adjustment and changes to their stay-at-home policy for minors and the elderly, Roque said these were already considered approved rules, as a task force resolution allowed them to set curfew and set age limits for vulnerable people who may be allowed to go out.

During the Metro Manila Council meeting on Sunday, Garcia said the mayors agreed to adjust the age limit for minors who may go out from 15 to 18 and retained 65 for the elderly.

Work shifts

Garcia noted that 18-year-olds were allowed to work, while younger people may be going out only for leisure.


He said the mayors wanted to minimize leisure activities that did not help run the economy, such as hanging around in shopping malls and loitering in the streets.

Also on Monday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government would encourage businesses to introduce work shifts that would allow their employees to start and end work at different hours, which would ease congestion on the roads.

Lopez said the Department of Trade and Industry had allowed 95 percent of businesses to reopen in areas under general community quarantine.

“We’ll release a circular to encourage companies to apply staggered shifts. This means there will be different office hours so that we can spread out the number of people commuting [and driving] to work and in need of transportation,” he said.

“So this means that there will be companies who would start their work at 7 in the morning, there would be those who would start at 8, 9, 10, 11 and so on,” he added.

Lopez said the government would leave it to companies to decide their work shifts, which would be in addition to flexible work hours and work-from-home arrangements.

With reports from Leila B. Salaverria and Roy Stephen C. Canivel

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