IATF to issue NCR quarantine decision on May 27
The government is expected to issue on May 27 its decision on the easing of Metro Manila's quarantine.
The National Capital Region has been on a "modified" ECQ since May 16, with more businesses allowed to operate.
Members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases are set to meet on Wednesday to discuss the coronavirus situation in the country.
"Well, hintayin na po natin ang magiging desisyon ng ating IATF dahil inaasahan naman po natin na bukas ay baka mayroon nang desisyon (Let's wait for the decision of the IATF because by tomorrow, they may come up with a decision)," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing Tuesday.
IATF resolutions are subject to President Rodrigo Duterte's approval, although he has not rejected the task force's recommendations in the past.
"What is important is we will look at the doubling rate, and the critical care capacity and, of course, we will pay attention to our economy," Roque said.
He added religious leaders are also scheduled to meet with officials to discuss protocols for religious gatherings.
Filipinos, the Palace spokesman said, should get used to social distancing because of the risks posed by the pandemic.
"We need to adjust to a new lifestyle... Even if we are under MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) or the 'new normal', social distancing is already part of our life. All activities will have to observe social distancing. Well, the future of these events (and) industries will really depend on our ability to adopt to a new lifestyle," he added.
Officials earlier said GCQ would be the "new normal" although government policy on COVID-19 has been subject to changes.
Metro Manila, Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales and Angeles City have been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), a transition between the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ). Only Cebu City and Mandaue City in the Visayas remain under ECQ while the rest of the country is now under GCQ.
Earlier, Roque said Metro Manila — home to more than 12 million people and contributor of more than a third of the Philippine's economy — may shift to the more lenient GCQ if the spread of coronavirus has slowed down and if its capacity to provide critical health care has improved.
"Well, if the data showed a slower doubling time of COVID (coronavirus disease) cases and if the critical care capacity is increased, that's possible. But let's wait for the formal announcement of the IATF," presidential spokesman Harry Roque told radio station dzRH last Monday.
Under ECQ, public transportation is suspended and only essential industries like those involved in healthcare and food production can operate. Some industries are allowed to operate partially in MECQ areas although mass transportation is still prohibited.
Public transportation may resume operations in GCQ areas but at a reduced capacity to observe safe physical distancing. More establishments are allowed to reopen under GCQ but they should follow health standards and social distancing.
In another interview, Roque said some "changes" may happen in Metro Manila soon but did not elaborate.
"The IATF has not met to discuss that (quarantine scenario in Metro Manila)...But if you notice the trend, you look at the doubling rate of COVID-19 and the increase in critical care capacity and, of course, the fact that we need to reopen the economy," Roque told radio station dzBB.
"So sa tingin ko naman po ay magkakaroon ng pagbago sa sistemang umiiral sa Metro Manila pero hindi ko po mapapangunahan ang IATF (I think there would be changes in the system being implemented in Metro Manila but I do not want to preempt the IATF)," he added.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Metro Manila may be placed under GCQ in June, citing what he described as "encouraging" signs like single digit increase in deaths and increasing recoveries.
Last week, Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief implementer of the national policy on the coronavirus, said the government may limit lockdowns to barangays or villages with coronavirus cases to lessen the effects of the coronavirus on the economy.
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