Metro mayors want GCQ over the holidays – Galvez

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    METRO Manila’s local executives want to keep the National Capital Region (NCR) under general community quarantine (GCQ) over the holidays in anticipation of a possible spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections after the celebrations, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday.

    Galvez, who is also the chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19, said mayors from Metro Manilla are very “cautious” about easing the restriction to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

    ‘’They (mayors) are very cautious about having an MGCQ here in Metro Manila. That is why their recommendation is, just in case there is an easing of restrictions, is to have it next year after the holidays,” Galvez said.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said President Duterte is expected to announce the quarantine categories for December on Monday, November 30.

    Galvez said the Inter-Agency Task Force on the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) was set to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss, among others, the minimum heath protocols during the holiday season when many gatherings from mall sales to possible party celebrations are expected to take place and which could lead to an increase in infections.

    He said the number of COVID-19 cases had been on a downtrend and the national government is closely coordinating with local government officials to keep it that way especially towards the Christmas and New Year season.

    He said NTF has also coordinated with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the police and the military, aside from the LGUs, to ensure that minimum health standards such as physical distancing and wearing of face masks and face shields are enforced and followed.

    He said the NTF is also coordinating with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ensure that health protocols are also followed in stores and establishments especially in malls and dine in restaurants with an expected influx of people who would do their holiday shopping or attend shopping sales.

    Metro Manila, along with the provinces of Batangas and Lanao del Sur and the cities of Bacolod, Iloilo, Tacloban and Iligan, are under GCQ from November 1 to November 30, while the rest of the country is under MGCQ.

    Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday said it will push for the adjustment of age restrictions under the existing GCQ in time for Christmas.

    Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told a CNN Philippines interview said the easing of age restrictions will help fuel spending and rebuild consumer confidence.

    “Definitely we will not relax the minimum health protocols, like (wearing of) face masks, face shields,” Lopez said, adding that most industries have been allowed to operate by as much as 100 percent while the age group allowed to leave their homes has earlier been adjusted to 15 to 65 years old from the previous 18 to 60 years old.

    “(Even) as we open, the rebound (of the economy) is not as fast,” he added. – With Irma Isip