EXPLAINER: What to expect when Metro Manila shifts to MGCQ
MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila may see a transition to the least stringent community quarantine by March after most local chief executives voted to recommend placing the metropolis under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
The decision was confirmed on Thursday by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos Jr.
“MGCQ won. In fact, this is the position of the whole of Metro Manila,” Abalos told reporters in a phone interview when asked about confirmation on the meeting of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) regarding the lockdown restrictions on Wednesday night.
Currently, Metro Manila, the Cordillera Administrative Region, Batangas, Tacloban City, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Iligan City are under the general community quarantine (GCQ) until the end of February.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), there are a total of 555,163 cases of coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
Of the sum, there are 31,115 active cases and 512,375 total recoveries. Meanwhile, the country’s death toll is at 11,673.
Based on the amended Omnibus Guidelines issued by the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, here’s what to expect when Metro Manila is placed under MGCQ:
Public health standards
Under MGCQ, all residents are required to observe minimum public health standards at all times. These include wearing a mask and face shield, physical distancing, frequent sanitation, and other health protocols.
The movement of people in MGCQ areas will be limited to accessing essential goods and services, work in the offices or industries, and other activities permitted to operate.
Who is not allowed to go out?
Persons below 15 years old, senior citizens or those over 65 years old, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, or other health risks, and pregnant women will be required to stay home at all times.
“Provided that all activities and movements allowed under other Sections of these Guidelines for the foregoing persons shall continue to be permitted under MGCQ,” stated in Section 5(3) of the IATF’s Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines with Amendments as of February 11, 2021.
Activities such as indoor and outdoor non-contact sports and other forms of exercise such as but not limited to walking, jogging, running, biking, golf, swimming, tennis, badminton, equestrian, range shooting, and skateboarding will be allowed.
“Provided, that the minimum public health standards such as the wearing of masks and the maintenance of social distancing protocols, and no sharing of equipment where applicable, are observed,” mentioned in Section 5(4) of the guidelines.
“For this purpose, the prohibition in Section 5(3) does not apply. Spectators in all non-contact sports and exercises shall be prohibited,” it continued.
Mass gatherings such as but not limited to movie screenings, concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment activities, religious services, and work conferences are allowed provided that participants shall be limited to fifty percent (50%) of the seating or venue capacity.
Work in public, private, and government offices
“Work in all public and private offices may be allowed to resume physical reporting to work at full operating capacity, with alternative work arrangements for persons who are sixty (60) years old and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women,” the IATF guidelines read.
Meanwhile, work in government offices may be at full operational capacity or under such alternative work arrangements as agencies may deem appropriate in accordance with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) rules and regulations.
Accredited diplomatic missions and international organizations may also resume full operations.
For K-12 basic education in MGCQ areas, the Department of Educations’ (DepEd) Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan will be enforced with schools adopting various learning delivery options such as, but not limited to, face-to-face, blended learning, distance learning, homeschooling, and other modes of delivery depending on the local COVID Risk Severity Classification of their areas and compliance with minimum health standards.
“For this purpose, the prohibition in Section 5(3) does not apply,” the government task force added.
As for higher education, “limited face-to-face or in-person classes may be conducted in higher education institutions (HEIs) provided there is strict compliance with minimum public health standards, consultation with local government units, and compliance with guidelines set by CHED.”
“Face-to-face TVET training and competency assessment may be conducted at up to 50% training and assessment site capacity, provided there is strict compliance with minimum public health standards, TESDA Guidelines, and consultation with local government units.”
“The road, rail, maritime, and aviation sectors of public transportation shall be allowed to operate at such capacity and following the protocols as provided for by the DOTr,” said IATF.
Private transportation will also be allowed subject to the guidelines issued by DOTr.
In MGCQ areas, the following permitted establishments and activities under Categories I, II, and III can operate at full capacity:
Category I industries: Power, energy, water, and other utilities, agriculture, fishery, and forestry industries, food manufacturing, health-related establishments, the logistics sector, information technology, and telecommunication companies;
Category II industries: Mining and other manufacturing, and electronic commerce companies, as well as other delivery, repair and maintenance, and housing and office services;
Category III industries: Financial services, legal and accounting, and auditing services, professional, scientific, technical, non-leisure services, and other non-leisure wholesale and retail establishments.
The following can operate up to 50 percent capacity:
Barbershops, salons, and other personal care service establishments;
Dine-in restaurants, fast food, and food retail establishments, including those in supermarkets, grocery stores, and food preparation establishments;
“Category IV and all other establishments not permitted to operate under previous Sections of these Guidelines, at a maximum of fifty percent (50%) operational capacity,” said IATF.
“Notwithstanding the foregoing, the DTI is hereby authorized to issue a negative list of industries which shall remain prohibited even in areas under MGCQ. Establishments in the negative list shall not be allowed to operate in any form of community quarantine,” it added.
Hotels or accommodation establishments with valid accreditation from the Department of Tourism (DOT) shall be allowed to accommodate guests and clients for legitimate purposes under a state of a public health emergency.
“The operations of such hotels and accommodation establishments, as well as ancillary establishments within their premises such as restaurants, cafés, gyms, spas, function halls, and the like, shall be subject to guidelines issued by the DOT and the IATF.”
All public and private construction projects shall be allowed subject to strict compliance with the construction safety guidelines issued by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the implementation of infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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