Cebu City now under MGCQ

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu City is now finally under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).

For the first time, Cebu City achieved significant improvement in its COVID-19 situation after almost six months of strict quarantine restrictions. Cebu City’s MGCQ status started last September 1, a sign that is COVID-19 situation is getting better.

On August 31, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu announced the more relaxed quarantine status of Cebu City despite fears of a re-escalation of COVID-19 cases in the city. Cebu City became a center of public scrutiny after the exponential increase of COVID-19 cases after the sudden shift of its status from enhanced community quarantine status (ECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ) from June 1 to 15. As a result, the National Government stepped in with Cimatu appointed as overseer for Cebu City’s Covid-19 response.

With the Philippines as the worst-hit nation over the COVID-19 virus in Southeast Asia, Cebu City became the first metropolitan city that is placed under the more relaxed MGCQ following the decrease in coronavirus infections.

Moreover, neighboring cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Talisay, Minglanilla, and Consolacion towns in Cebu are now under MGCQ as well.

On the contrary, the National Capital Region and the provinces of Batangas and Bulacan will remain under GCQ. Meanwhile, Tacloban City in Leyte and Bacolod City in Negros Occidental, both of which reported new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the previous weeks are also placed under GCQ.

Cebu City’s MGCQ status will last from Sept. 1 to 30. The more relaxed quarantine is under the recommendation by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Gov’t. Agencies that leads the country’s response to Covid-19.

Cebu City Covid-19 cases

Cimatu, a retired general, congratulated Cebu City residents for the quarantine downgrade because of the decline of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city.

“I’m here to congratulate the Cebuanos; we did it. We did it because the number of active cases has gone down and we have more recoveries. This is an indication of the seriousness of the leadership here and also the Department of Health and other agencies,” he said during an online press conference on Aug. 31.

Cebu City’s coronavirus infection reached a record high on June 30 with 5, 494 cases, the highest to the date in the said period. However, on August 30, eight weeks after tight restrictions, the DOH 7 reported ONLY 622 active Covid-19 cases, after registering 8,343 recoveries. For the time being, Cebu City has 9,614 total confirmed Covid-19 cases and 649 deaths.

To lessen immobility among areas with fewer infections, Cebu City authorities implemented “granular lockdowns,”. In this type of lockdown, a section of a barangay or street where resident(s) tested positive for Covid-19 is placed on lockdown.

First time on MGCQ status

For about six months, this is the first time that Cebu City is placed under MGCQ Status.

Back on March 16 until April 14, Cebu City was under GCQ but was reverted to ECQ on March 28 because of the surge of coronavirus infections. Cebuanos expected it to end on April 28 but Mayor Labella ordered to extend it until May 15.

Due to the continued surge in infection, IATF took over the role of imposing quarantine measures.

As part of their COVID plan, IATF extended Cebu City’s ECQ status from May 16 to May 31. Then from June 1 to June 15, Cebu City was under GCQ. During that GCQ, Cebu City’s infection was at a record high which forced IATF to re-imposed modified ECQ over Cebu City until July 15.

Cebu City shifted to MECQ from July 16 to July 31, then to GCQ from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31.

Transition period

As per IATF omnibus guidelines, MGCQ “refers to the transition period between GCQ and the New Normal.” In this phase, the temporary measures are not that strict anymore. Although, there is still a limitation on people’s movement and transportation. Everyone must observe the same rule in the regulation of operating industries. Uniformed personnel will be on duty 24/7 also to enforce community quarantine protocols.

Re-opening of the Tourism Industry

With its MGCQ status, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia is already re-opening the Tourism Industry of Cebu. For instance, the Whale Shark Watching in Oslob are already starting. More beach resorts in Cebu province are also welcoming local guests for daytime and overnight use.
Mayor Labella is also planning to open some tourist destinations in the city like Sirao’s flower farm for vendors to earn a living. He also encouraged people to practice public health standards such as wearing masks and observing physical distance.

Limited Public Movement

Despite the decision, Labella made it mandatory for residents to carry their QR-coded quarantine passes.

Public movement MGCQ settings are limited to getting essential goods and services, and work in the offices or industries only.

To assure health safety, the public made it mandatory to wear masks and observing physical distance all the time.

Under MGCQ, senior citizens and individuals 20 years old and younger must still stay at home.

Furthermore, churches, sporting events, and work conferences can also start but with only 50% capacity. Besides, employees can now report to work but must present Company ID or Certificate of Employment (COE).

Public transport is also back in their operation with passengers strictly observing stringent physical distancing inside public utility vehicles.

Business sector

Several businesses establishment are already back on their operations since Aug. 1. However, local authorities iterated that business owners should not be complacent since the virus has not fully contained yet.

Felix Taguiam, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is happy that Cebu’s Covid-19 cases is now under control. But he reminded that people should remain vigilant and learn from the hard experiences under ECQ.

Among the business allowed to open under MGCQ are fitness establishments and Spas, Computer shops, and travel agencies. Moreover, libraries and museums are also open, but with only 50 percent capacity.

Shopping malls are now open until 10 PM.

Dine-ins, barbershops, and salons are also back on operation with an allowed 75% capacity only.

Furthermore, live events are possible but must conform to the protocols of the Department of Tourism.

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