COVID-19

Cebu province places 11 LGUs under MECQ

Art Lubiano

CEBU GOVERNMENT. The Cebu Provincial Capitol

Photo by Ryme26/Wikimedia Commons

The provincial government voluntarily places particular towns and cities under MECQ after months of consistently protesting any proposed COVID-19 lockdowns

The Cebu provincial government placed 11 of the 44  local government units (LGUs) under its jurisdiction back to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) with heightened restrictions starting Wednesday, August 11.

The cities and towns under MECQ were:

  • Minglanilla
  • Samboan
  • Sibonga
  • Argao
  • Cordova
  • Oslob
  • Consolacion
  • Liloan
  • Talisay
  • Carcar
  • Naga

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued executive order (EO) 38 escalating the existing general community quarantine (GCQ) status of the province to MECQ following “a spike of active cases in the past few days” in these cities and municipalities.

“Under IATF-MEID Resolution No 29, Series of 2020, the Provincial Governor is authorized to impose enhanced community quarantine in component cities, municipalities, and barangays,” the EO read.

The executive order did not include an end date for the quarantine status.

Cebu province, including the three independent cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, and Mandaue, was initially classified under MECQ from August 1 to 15.

However, the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) later approved the province’s appeal to downgrade the status to GCQ on August 1.

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Cebu City, Cebu province under MECQ from August 1 to 15

Cebu City, Cebu province under MECQ from August 1 to 15

While only the national IATF could determine quarantine statuses of entire provinces and independent cities, a provincial government has the authority to declare heightened quarantine restrictions in cities and towns within its jurisdiction.

Garcia’s decision to put particular areas of the province under a stricter quarantine came as a surprise. She had been consistently vocal against lockdowns, saying that the province had “moved on” from the pandemic.

The provincial government had also frequently downplayed the severity and extent of the pandemic, comparing it to more common diseases like tuberculosis and dengue.

COVID-19 spike

Cebu province reported 280 new cases on Tuesday, August 10, according to the Department of Health Central Visayas. This brings its total number of active cases to 4,487, the highest number of active cases reported in the province since the pandemic began in 2020.

OCTA Research group said data gathered during the first week of August showed the “worst COVID surge” in Cebu City.

“The most recent 7-day average of new Covid-19 cases in Cebu increased by 22% from the previous week to 271 (for the period of August 1 to 7). This is higher than the peak of the surge on February 20, 2021, when Cebu City reported 266 new Covid-19 cases,” the report read.

The city Emergency Operations Center (EOC) recorded 208 new COVID19 cases which increased the number of active cases, or people currently sick with COVID-19 to 3,316.

The data in an EOC report published on August 8 came after the city completed the first week of its 15-day modified enhanced community quarantine– the second strictest quarantine classification.

What is restricted during MECQ?

The following business are not allowed to operate during MECQ:

  • Entertainment venues with live performers such as karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls, theaters, and cinemas;
  • Recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues;
  • Amusement parks or theme parks, fairs, kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie/fun rides;
  • Outdoor sports courts or venues for contact sports, scrimmages, games, or activities;
  • Indoor sports courts or venues, fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centers or facilities, and swimming pools;
  • Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments except for the draws conducted by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office;
  • Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and cultural shows and exhibits;
  • Outdoor tourist attractions;
  • Personal care services which include beauty salons, beauty parlors, medical aesthetic clinics, cosmetic or derma clinics, make-up salons, nail spas, reflexology, aesthetics, wellness and holistic centers, and other similar establishments; acupuncture and electrocautery establishments, and massage therapy including sports therapy establishments.
  • Tanning services, body piercings, tattooing, and similar services. Home service for these activities are likewise not permitted;
  • Indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as commissaries, restaurants, eateries and cafes. 

See the executive order for full list of restrictions

The movement of all persons are limited to accessing goods and services from permitted establishments, for work in such establishments, or for other activities permitted by the EO.

“There shall be a curfew from 10 PM to 5 AM in all areas reclassified under MECQ,” the EO read.

Residents below 15 years old and over 65 with an immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women are required to stay at home.

However, if the said residents fall under the said restrictions they are exempted when they are to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in industries and offices, or other permitted activities.

Checkpoints

All persons entering these LGUs through any of the ports of entry in areas under MECQ and through the port of San Fernando are required to present a negative RT-PCR test result taken within the last 72 hours or negative antigen test result taken within the last 48 hours;

Public transportation

All public utility vehicles (PUV) are allowed to operate within MECQ areas, provided they observe the guidelines defined under Executive Order No. 35-B, Series of 2021.

All air-conditioned PUVs that cannot fully open their windows shall be required to install air purifiers with hepa filters proportional to the area of the PUV in order for them to operate.

No public gatherings

Gatherings outside of residences are prohibited even at residences with any person outside of one’s immediate household.

“However, gatherings that are essential for the provision of health services, government services, or humanitarian activities authorized by the appropriate government agency or instrumentality shall be allowed,” the EO read.

Religious gatherings are allowed up to 10% of the venue capacity, provided that the local government unit concerned may increase said gathering to 30% of the venue capacity.

While funerals and wakes would be permitted, only immediate family members would be allowed to attend.  –Rappler.com

Art Lubiano is a Visayas-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.