Galvez blames lockdown violators for COVID-19 spikes

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    THE people’s lack of information and disregard of health protocols are the main reasons for the spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in some areas, National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday as he deflected claims that the reopening of the economy should be blamed for higher infection reports.

    Galvez said the government is now conducting a massive information drive to educate the public and sustain whatever successes that have been gained in administration’s efforts to put under control the COVID-19 situation in the country.

    “Ang importante po talaga ay malaman po ng mga tao iyong kanilang awareness for self-protection at saka iyong health safety… Nakikita po natin ang spike ng virus is not because we opened the economy but the consciousness of the people, the lack of, iyong tinatawag nating safety ng mga tao (The important thing is for public to learn awareness for self-protection and the health safety… We have seen that the spike of the virus is not because we have opened the economy but because of the lack of consciousness, the lack of safety by the people),” he said.

    He reiterated that compliance with minimum health standards like the washing of hands, wearing of face mask and shield, and observance of physical distancing are important tools to avoid contracting the virus, especially now that businesses have been allowed to gradually reopen.

    Galvez said the government is now on the third phase of the National Action Plan (NAP) on COVID-19, which will be implemented until March 2021. The third phase promotes “learning to live with the virus.”

    Under phase 3, the prevent-detect-isolate-treat-recovery strategy of the government will also be sustained and strengthened as businesses slowly return to normal operations.

    TRANSPORT

    Galvez said the government is looking at different measures to raise public transportation capacity and open more labor-heavy industries to revive the economy.

    He said the limited transportation operations had been the restrictive factor in the recovery of the economy, which had been on a slump following the imposition of different levels of lockdowns for the past seven months.

    Among the proposals being considered by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is the possible reduction of the one-meter distancing rule in public utility vehicles to accommodate more passengers.

    Galvez said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez had been tasked by the IATF to identify sectors which can be further opened or revived with priorities on businesses which are high-yielding and labor-intensive to raise more revenues and generate more jobs.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at present, only about 50 percent of the national economy is open due to some restrictions in the activities and business operations in Metro Manila.

    REVIVING BOHOL TOURISM

    To revive the tourism industry in Bohol, provincial governor Arthur Yap said preparations are being done for the opening of the tourism bubble covering the Panglao island.

    Yap, during the Laging Handa public briefing, said once the Panglao Island is re-opened and health systems put in place, the provincial government would expand the travel bubble to other tourism destinations in the area and eventually to the rest of the province.

    He said Bohol will follow the guidance of the Department of Tourism about the implementation of tourism bubbles and the protocols involved.

    He said interested tourists would be asked to register through Bohol’s website where they will receive an authorized QR code that can be used when booking their flights, accommodations and tours.

    He said only pre-arranged destinations tours and packaged events will be allowed.

    Yap said travelers who will stay in Panglao for a few days will be required to secure negative polymerase chain reaction tests while those who would be visiting beyond five days will be subject to additional confirmatory tests.

    He assured the public that Bohol has contingencies in place to protect residents and visitors from the pandemic.

    Early this month, Baguio City and the Boracay Island opened to tourists coming only from the Ilocos and Western Visayas regions, respectively.

    ANTIPOLO COMMUTE

    Meanwhile, the Antipolo city government yesterday announced it has approved the resumption of operations of public utility jeepneys and has opened 16 routes for the PUJs.
    Mayor Andeng Ynares said the routes for the transport sector have been approved by the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

    The approved routes are: Antipolo – Cubao (via Sumulong Highway vice versa); Antipolo – Cubao (via Olalia Road/Cogeo vice versa); SM Masinag – Greenbelt/Ayala (point to point); Antipolo – Robinsons Galleria (point to point); Antipolo – Ayala (via Ortigas vice versa); Masinag – Ayala (via C5 vice versa); Paenaan – Marikina (via Marcos Highway vice versa); Cogeo – Marikina (via Marcos Highway vice versa); and Antipolo-Marikina (via Sumulong Highway vice versa).

    Also approved were the Cogeo – Paenaan (via Marcos Highway vice versa); Cogeo – Palo Alto (via Marcos Highway vice versa); Cogeo – Padilla (via Marcos Highway vice versa); Mambugan – Marikina (via Sumulong Highway vice versa); Antipolo – Marikina (via Sumulong Highway vice versa); Cogeo, Bagong Nayon -Marikina (via Marcos Highway vice versa); and Siniloan-Cainta (via Antipolo-Teresa Road vice versa). – With Christian Oineza