‘Now at least, we have the vaccine and the lessons learned from the first ECQ. What we still lack is the discipline and the will to obey.’
AFTER congratulating the nation for nearly defeating COVID-19 a couple of weeks back, presidential spokesman Harry Roque had to eat his word and glumly announced on Saturday night that Metro Manila Plus will revert to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) effective midnight or 12:01 a.m. of Monday, March 29 until Sunday, April 4.
Tech-savvy Filipinos especially our local Tumblr girls and boys were no longer surprised by the late afternoon announcement, for the decision of the IATF and Malacañang had leaked to social media a couple of hours prior.
To be placed under the highly restrictive ECQ — the second in 13 months — are the National Capital Region and the provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan and Cavite, Laguna and Rizal known as NCR+.
Senior citizens, minors, pregnant women, and those with immunodeficiency and co-morbidities are not allowed to go out of their homes.
Since it is Holy Week, the most telling aspect of this announcement is that all mass gatherings, including religious activities that were previously allowed for up to 10 percent capacity, are now prohibited. Catholic churches, Muslims and other denominations are warned to strictly comply.
For sure, hundreds of policemen, soldiers and enforcers will again be deployed to man checkpoints and enforce curfew which will be uniform within the bubble. Mass transportation is suspended but its effects will barely be felt because there are no classes and no work during the Holy Week.
Huge construction projects of the government and the private sector will continue but private house-building and renovations are discouraged. Malls, groceries and supermarkets are open, along with drug stores and hardware shops. Many businesses are closed, except for essential industries such as food, medical care, agriculture, delivery and courier services. Others such as media, banks, telecom, medical and dental clinics, etc. will operate at half the capacity or lower.
Ever an optimist who sees sunshine in every dark nook, Secretary Roque noted that these mobility restrictions came at a traditionally religious time when Filipinos are not working, the Holy Week. Thus, the confinement should barely make a dent in their day-to-day activities.
We see this second round of ECQ as not as hard as the first in March, 2020, when we did not know what an ECQ really is, and how virulent the SARS Cov-2 or coronavirus 2019 will become. Now at least, we have the vaccine and the lessons learned from the first ECQ. What we still lack is the discipline and the will to obey.