Metro Manila mayors back ‘hybrid MECQ’ until mid-May

The Metro Manila Council opted to retain the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in the region until mid-May, but with a caveat that more businesses should be allowed to reopen, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos said on Wednesday, April 28.

Iyon ang naging desisyon (That was the decision made). We call it ‘hybrid MECQ,’” Abalos told Rappler in a phone interview.

“It was presented to us by the [Department of Health] and the [National Economic Development Authority],” he added.

The current MECQ status of Metro Manila and 4 nearby provinces is set to expire on April 30.

Under the current MECQ, public transportation, outdoor dining, and individual outdoor exercises are allowed. Several industries have also been given the go signal to operate with full onsite capacity.

But Abalos said that in the official position of the Metro Manila Council, mayors also wanted to shorten curfew hours, from the current 8 pm to 5 am, to 10 pm to 4 am.

He also declined to specify which industries they wanted to reopen under the “hybrid MECQ,” as to not preempt the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), which is expected to announce its recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday.

“Ang maganda rito (the good thing about this is), you get the best of both worlds. You get the best of MECQ with, of course, additional business activity, pero takot tayo sa infection (but we are afraid of infections). [So] you [also] get the character of MECQ which is border control; interzonal travel is prohibited,” he added.

Interzonal movement is defined by the IATF as “the movement of people, goods, and services between provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities under different community quarantine classification.”

The Metro Manila Council’s proposed slight adjustments to the current quarantine status come as the Philippines still grapples with over 70,000 active COVID-19 cases, a significant chunk of it from the National Capital Region. –