Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal will remain under a modified enhanced community quarantine for the first two weeks of May, with some “flexible” protocols that will be introduced. But how will this be different from the usual lockdown rules?
Citing initial recommendations from Cabinet secretaries and mayors, Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Thursday the potential scenarios involving businesses and activities in MECQ areas from May 1 to 14. These are still subject to change pending the official list that will be issued by the Trade Department.
“The premise here is these activities must not contribute to the spread of the virus,” said Abalos, noting that more outdoor activities will be encouraged.
Al fresco dining will be largely promoted within localities, Abalos said.
“We can ask the LGUs. Sa Mandaluyong we identified certain areas along Pasig River na baka tulungan ang aming restaurants, ibibigay namin sa kanila for the meantime na pwedeng al fresco dining dahil meron silang samahan ng mga restaurants. Baka makatulong din,” he shared.
[Translation: We can ask the LGUs. In Mandaluyong, we identified certain areas along Pasig River which could help our restaurants, for the meantime we are hoping to allow al fresco dining especially since they have an organization of restaurants there. This might help.]
Abalos said indoor dining will likely be reduced to 10% or 20% of capacity, with stricter protocols to be imposed by health experts. But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stressed in his noontime briefing that indoor dine-ins are still prohibited for now. The government has yet to issue its latest guidelines on this for next month.
Citing a recommendation by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Abalos added that restaurants will be encouraged to display a “seal of safety” to ensure people that these establishments follow health standards.
“Ang suggestion ni Sec. Ramon magkakaroon ka ng seal of safety. If you go to this restaurant and you see this seal of safety, kumakain ka eh, kung makita mong may seal of safety, kakain ka rito. These are some of the things that could be discussed.”
[Translation: Sec. Ramon suggested to display a seal of safety. If you go to this restaurant and you see this seal of safety, you will be enticed to eat there. These are some of the things that could be discussed.]
Will personal care services open in MECQ areas? Abalos also brought up the recent proposal of Lopez to reopen salons, barbershops, and other personal care services, with over 200,000 workers in the Greater Manila area who are part of this sector.
The Trade Department is considering reopening these establishments at a 50% capacity, with some services that can potentially be done outdoors.
“Iniisip nila Sec. Mon, what if may strict protocol yung mga barbero o mga nagma-manicure, nasa outdoor din? It’s being all considered here,” he said.
[Translation: Sec. Mon is also considering implementing strict protocols, like for barbers, manicurists, can some activities be done outdoors? It’s being all considered here.]
What has been established so far is the new unified curfew hours from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. in Metro Manila effective May 1.
“At least ‘pag 10:00, flexible, hindi nagmamadali ang mga tao. Ang mga seswelduhin mo they could be paid for the full eight hours. It will give more working time to our workers and at the same time hindi nagmamadali at ang negosyo,” Abalos added.
[Translation: At least if the curfew starts at 10:00, business operations are more flexible. People are not rushing. Your workers can be paid for the full eight hours. It will give more working time to our workers and at the same time, operations are not rushed.]
Travelers will still not be allowed to go beyond the NCR Plus bubble to contain virus transmission, he added.
Earlier this week, Metro Manila mayors first recommended a “flexible” MECQ over their cities, a middle ground which would primarily maintain border control and strict protocols while gradually opening some businesses.
“[The MECQ will be] flexible or hybrid. It’s getting the best character of MECQ and GCQ — GCQ because there will be more business activities, and the best character ng MECQ because of stricter border protocols within the periphery of NCR Plus.”
Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will meet later in the day to finalize the list of businesses that will be allowed to operate under MECQ.