The country is now ready to graduate from lockdowns aimed at stemming the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to a “new normal” – but still with some reservations, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said.
“I have studied twice, thrice and so many times the evolving numbers, emerging scenarios and the national strategies and their implementation. I have discussed the data with scientists, chaos theorists, and economists. At this time, I am prepared – with a lot of trembling inside, thunder and lightning outside – to say that we are more ready for the consequences of a reopening,” he said.
However, Salceda, who was the first to call for the implementation of a lockdown among his colleagues at the Lower House, warned that the government must not be complacent once normal activities resume.
“Government strategists should steel our nerves during episodic spikes just in case and not fall for the easy default of an unplanned lockdown which we can only do at the expense of resources for our recovery,” he said.
“The task force should continue to increase testing, tracing, and treatment to achieve 8,000 daily by May 15 and 30,000 a day by May 30. No part of the day’s activities should disproportionately expose anyone to the possibility of infection.”
“We must all do our part — the low-cost non-pharmaceutical interventions: wash your hands, wear face masks, avoid crowds, and maintain physical distancing even at home,” Salceda added.
He said localized lockdowns that are “local government-managed and not barangay-directed” can be maintained instead.
But in Metro Manila, Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez is supporting the recommendation of some local government units to extend the enhanced community quarantine after May 15.
“I’m joining other LGUs of Metro Manila to possibly extend the ECQ rather that gamble into downgrading to general community quarantine come May 15,” said Olivarez, the incumbent chairman of the Metro Manila Council.
MMC, composed of 17 mayors and other local executives in the NCR, is the policy-making body and the governing board of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
It approves metro-wide plans, programs and projects and issues rules, regulations and resolutions deemed necessary by the MMDA.
Meanwhile, Malacanang released Thursday guidelines on the operation of malls and shopping centers in areas under GCQ.
1. Monitor foot traffic and enforce safe distancing by limiting the number of people inside to a density of not more than one person per two square meters; reducing number of open entrances; allowing only one companion for senior citizens, pregnant women, and persons with disabilities; ensuring social distancing (one meter apart); assigning personnel in high-density areas; standing on every other step of the escalator; limiting access to elevators to seniors citizens, PWDs, and pregnant women; marking or reducing the seats available for waiting; and creating one-way flow to decongest queues and facilitate movement; increasing police visibility
2. Designate a centralized pick up location for delivery service providers;
3. Regulate air conditioning to 26 degrees centigrade;
4. Turn off free Wi-Fi;
5. Suspend sale events, marketing events, and other promotions which tend to attract large crowds;
6. Implement other measures necessary (e.g. express lanes).
“Wala po dapat Wi-Fi dahil kapag malamig at may Wi-Fi, eh marami pong tatambay,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.
Roque earlier announced that LGUs had asked the national government to place their areas ECQ. The requests, he said, were discussed during the meetings of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“The committee is mandated to come up with a process with regard to appealing or validating decisions on declaring areas under ECQ or whether they should be downgraded to GCQ,” Roque said.
Under ECQ, mass transportation is prohibited and only essential businesses and services are allowed to operate. Areas with low to moderate risks may shift to the more relaxed general community quarantine or GCQ.
Under GCQ, some forms of mass transport and establishments are allowed to resume operations but at a reduced capacity.