MANILA – Despite the threat posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak in the country, Malacañang on Wednesday floated the possibility that the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila might be downgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ) in June.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, citing the statements of National Policy Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, raised the likelihood of imposing GCQ in Metro Manila on June 1.
“I quote both of them (Galvez and Año) that chances are, we will in fact be transitioning to GCQ in Metro Manila, according to the chief implementer and the DILG Secretary,” Roque said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
In a meeting on Tuesday, all 17 mayors of Metro Manila unanimously approved the recommendation to place the country’s metropolis under GCQ on June 1.
The recommendation is set to be submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Roque said the IATF-EID would meet on Wednesday to discuss the implementation of the nationwide community quarantine.
He noted that the task force has yet to decide on the possible extension or lifting of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), MECQ, and GCQ in the country.
“Today, IATF is meeting and we expect a decision to be made by the body. It is very difficult for me to actually speculate because as spokesperson, I have to wait for the collegiate body to decide,“ Roque said.
The imposition of ECQ in Cebu and Mandaue cities; MECQ in Metro Manila, Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Zambales; and GCQ in the rest of the country would lapse on May 31.
Metro Manila mayors have sought the shift to GCQ, a less stringent community quarantine, as they emphasized the need to reopen the economy for more industries to help their constituents cope with the Covid-19 crisis.
People living in areas under MECQ have to limit their movements to going to work and availing of essential services.
Roque said the government already knows “what is going to happen,” should it impose GCQ in Metro Manila.
Acknowledging that the implementation of GCQ would be a “big change” for Metro Manila, he reminded employers to finalize their working arrangements with their employees to ensure that the quarantine protocols set by the government would continue to be followed.
“So we’re appealing in fact to both private and the public sector to ensure at least 50-50 workforce. It doesn’t mean that work stops because I think by now, we’re used to working at home,” he said. (ia/PNA)