IT’S general community quarantine (GCQ) all over again, and while no official change of quarantine status has been imposed on Metro Manila, the more restrictive mobility policy has been widened to include the provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna.
The new status was announced by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) last Sunday, for implementation from March 22 to April 4, 2021.
The IATF said only individuals aged 18 to 65 will be allowed outside; others, along with those with health risks, pregnant, or with immunodeficiencies are required to remain at home. Also, only essential travel in and out of the “bubble areas” will be allowed. Although public transportation is maintained, common curfew will be imposed from10 p.m. to 5 a.m. with workers, cargo vehicles and public transport exempted.
‘We also expect that VIP violators in the mold of Debold Sinas will again surface and make it to the news pages, escaping unscathed.’
At a time sadly coinciding with the long vacation of the Holy Week, many non-essential activities are prohibited, including parties or mass gatherings, religious activities, dine-in meet-ups in restaurants, cockfighting, etc. Closed are driving schools, traditional cinemas, video and interactive game arcades, libraries, archives, museums, etc. Weddings, baptisms, and funeral services will be limited to 10 persons.
The government also reminded local government units to do their duty of distributing face masks and shields, with the barangays providing monitoring of compliance of health protocols by households. The local officials are also tasked to identify COVID-19 cases as they surface, increase and improve facility-based quarantine and isolation through Oplan Kalinga, and ensure appropriate patient care navigation through the use of One Hospital Command Center.
As we read the instructions from the IATF, signed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, we cannot help but feel a sense of deja vu for we have been here before, specifically in March and April exactly a year ago.
Our expectation now is that the police, military and the mayors will again be strict and rigid in enforcing this policy, but will relax and ease anew after a couple of days. We also expect that VIP violators in the mold of Debold Sinas will again surface and make it to the news pages, escaping unscathed. We hope to be proven wrong.
This second time, we implore the nation to please, let us all cooperate to make this work. We have suffered enough and need not suffer further.