In line with the government’s thrust to further reopen the Philippine economy, Metro Manila mayors agreed to trim curfew hours and allow more residents to venture outside their homes under community quarantine.
Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Jojo Garcia said on Monday, October 19, that all 17 mayors in the metropolis unanimously agreed on the following measures proposed during a meeting held on Sunday night, October 18:
- Shorten curfew hours to 12 am to 4 am, from 10 pm to 5 am – except in Navotas City
- Allow Metro Manila residents aged 18 to 65 years old to go outside their residences
During a briefing at Malacañang where he guested, Garcia said the decision to cut curfew hours was aimed at boosting economic activity as more businesses open.
On the other hand, unlike the rest of the country, the 18 to 65 age limit for authorized persons outside their residences in Metro Manila is slightly more stringent than the government coronavirus task force’s decision to allow those between 15 to 65 years old to go out.
Garcia said this was done to allow for a more gradual flow of people venturing outside while Metro Manila remains under a general community quarantine. The capital region is one of the few places to remain on GCQ while majority of the Philippines is under a modified GCQ.
Metro Manila mayors also recommended to the government task force to increase the allowed capacity in churches from the current 10% to 30%.
According to Garcia, Metro Manila mayors wanted to allow for more people to be able to take advantage of religious services in person to help address the rise in psychological issues seen under lockdown.
What the national government says
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who also serves as the spokesman for the inter-agency coronavirus task force (IATF), said local governments had the power to tweak pandemic response measures as needed.
“Binigay naman ng kapangyarihan ang lokal na pamahalaaan na itaas yung edad ng mga bata na pupwedeng lumabas at saka yung curfew po ay 12 to 4 am,” he said. (The local government was given the power to raise the age range of children allowed outside their homes and [tweak] curfew hours to 12 to 4 am.)
Meanwhile, Roque said proposals to increase the capacity of people allowed in churches will still be subject to discussion at the IATF.
Garcia said Metro Manila mayors also proposed to keep the capital region under GCQ until the end of the year.
While the situation in the capital region is gradually improving, it has been the epicenter of the country’s pandemic since day one and continued to register some 900 new cases over the last few weeks.
By December, curfew hours may also be shortened further from 12 am to 3 am, to make way for the Simbang Gabi tradition of Filipinos during the holidays, Garcia said.
Shorter curfew hours were eyed to allow for more masses to be scheduled to and to avoid accumulating crowds in places of worship.
Despite the relaxed measures, Garcia said mayors stressed that while restrictions were eased, residents must continue to follow minimum health standards like wearing of face masks and face shields, frequent hand washing, and physical distancing where possible. – Rapper.com