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Año bets GCQ stays until year’s end

Elmer Navarro Manuel

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Health restrictions will likely stay under the general community quarantine (GCQ) status until December based on an evolving agreement among Metro Manila local officials and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año who President Rodrigo Duterte listens to regarding measures to control the coronavirus pandemic.

The DILG on Friday announced that it is supporting the recommendation of Metro Manila mayors to implement GCQ in the region until December.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had stressed that the Palace respects the position of the mayors.

“We respect their decision since the IATF secretaries are having discussions with Metro Manila mayors, and in particular Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez is always engaged in dialogue with the Metro Manila mayors,” Roque said.

In a statement, Año cited his agency’s support to the Metro mayors’ recommendation since the National Capital Region (NCR) is still considered as the epicenter of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

MMDA, mayors seal agreement
“I support that particular stand of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Metro Manila mayors. As of the moment, the daily cases of coronavirus disease (COVID) in the National Capital Region is still on three digits and it is still considered as the epicenter of the disease,” Año said.

“So, the protocols should not be relaxed, especially now that Christmas is already around the corner and the tendency of the public is to have get-togethers and throw parties,” he added.

Año had indicated that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had issued a ban on Christmas parties in Metro Manila where a surge in COVID-19 cases remains a possibility amid the easing of restrictions.

“We want to celebrate Christmas with low cases of COVID-19,” Año said.

Gradual easing
MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia said mayors are seeking a gradual easing of restrictions amid the pandemic while the mayors discouraged the reopening of cinemas, resumption of concerts and the holding of Christmas parties.

The past week, Metro Manila areas imposed shorter curfew hours starting as part of the government’s move to ease restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the new curfew hours will be from 12 midnight to 4 a.m.

Navotas, however, will still implement the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. According to Garcia, Mayor Toby Tiangco has decided to keep the schedule because Navotas has bigger residential areas than industrial sites.

The 17 mayors regularly give recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases on their preferred quarantine classification in the region.

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