METRO Manila will remain under general community quarantine for the entire month of November, President Duterte announced in a recorded message that was aired on Tuesday morning.
The President said the GCQ, which is still subject to appeal by the local government units (LGUs), will also be in effect in the provinces of Batangas and Lanao del Sur and the cities of Bacolod, Iloilo, Tacloban and Iligan from November 1 to 30.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque yesterday said the LGUs have until October 29 (Thursday) to appeal the quarantine classifications. A final decision on the lockdown level would be made on the same day.
Duterte approved the latest quarantine classification as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and Metro Manila mayors, who had earlier said they want the community quarantine level in the region to be in effect until the end of the year to control the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the metropolis.
Roque, who said that COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila had already been going down, said the current GCQ status in the National Capital Region can be considered as the least strict, with the availability of more public transportation and the operation of more businesses and activities.
He shrugged off the warning of the Octa Research group that more infections can happen with the opening of more routes and allowing more public transportation to ply the streets.
He said Filipinos are now aware of what should done when riding public transportation and he believes that they would continue to follow the health protocols like wearing of masks and shields, no talking or eating and observing social distancing when riding public transportation.
Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said 12,000 policemen have been deployed nationwide ahead of the eight day closure of cemeteries, memorial parks and columbariums in anticipation of the expected influx of people who will visit their loved ones before the October 28 to November 4 closure dates.
Eleazar said the policemen are supported by an estimated 17,000 “force multipliers,” including local government and barangay personnel.
Eleazar, the concurrent PNP deputy chief for operations, said policemen and the force multipliers have been instructed to make sure that those who will go to the cemeteries are wearing face masks and shields and observing social distancing.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has limited to 30 percent capacity at any one time the number of people who can visit cemeteries and columbariums. Also, the task force has mandated that visitors wear face masks and face shields and observe social distancing.
Age restrictions will not be applied to the people going to visit their deceased loved ones from September 17 until November 15.
“They are distributed all over the country,” Eleazar told a phone interview, referring to the policemen and force multipliers who are deployed in cemeteries and columbariums.
Eleazar said the number of policemen and force multipliers will be downsized when the cemeteries and columbariums are shut down, with only enough numbers to ensure that no one sneaks inside the cemeteries and columbariums while they are closed.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told police commanders and LGU officials to ensure cemeteries and columbariums are closed from October 28 to November 4, as ordered by the IATF.
Año, a key member of the IATF, said policemen commanders and LGU officials will be held accountable for their actions.
“This is to prevent mass gathering during this time of pandemic,” Año said, adding: “The local police commanders and the mayors by now should have discussed the rules that would be implemented per locality but all these local rules that would be crafted should conform to the guidelines set by the IATF.”
“During the pandemic, we are asking for the people’s cooperation by not going to the cemeteries, staying at home on October 28 to November 4, 2020 and visiting their departed relatives days before or weeks after the closure,” added Año. – With Victor Reyes