Negros Occidental, Bacolod ease restrictions

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines -- The province of Negros Occidental and its capital city, Bacolod, entered on Saturday, May 16, a state of General Community Quarantine (GCQ), along with much of the country. 

The only areas not under GCQ are Cebu City and Mandaue City which are under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ); and Metro Manila, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, Angeles City, Laguna which are under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ).

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson signed on Friday, May 15, the executive order “in order to preserve the health and safety of all Negrenses against the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.”

The provincial government will implement the following safeguards under GCQ:

Lacson, in his order, has also allowed religious activities to resume, but subject to the strict observance and enforcement of social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols.

All provincial Enhanced Community Quarantine passes issued by the province of Negros Occidental are deemed automatically extended and considered valid until May 31, Lacson said, adding that these provincial ECQ passes shall be used to ensure the unimpeded flow of goods through the City of Bacolod.

Bacolod City GCQ

For Bacolod, which is not under the jurisdiction of the provincial government being a highly-urbanized city, Mayor Evelio Leonardia said: “transitioning from ECQ into GCQ does not necessarily mean that community life, as we knew it before COVID-19 struck Bacolod City, can immediately resume without some necessary lifestyle changes.” (READ: Poor families in Bacolod brace for coronavirus impact)

In his executive order signed on Friday, May 15, the mayor said that there would still be a curfew in the city from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily.

The city government will implement the following precautions under GCQ:

The EO stated that all private vehicles and other means of private transport entering Bacolod City will be subject to the odd-even scheme based on Land Transportation Office (LTO) plate numbers or conduction sticker numbers.

Vehicles with plate/conduction sticker numbers ending in odd numbers will be permitted to enter Bacolod on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and those ending in the even numbers can enter on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

No private vehicles and other private means of transport will be permitted to enter the city on Sundays except for those exempted from the odd-even scheme, the EO said.

Business establishments permitted to operate during the GCQ are urged to provide means of transportation to their workers. (READ: ‘We have no more food’: Jeepney, tricycle drivers in Bacolod cry for help)

Malls and commercial centers are allowed to open non-leisure businesses and for restaurants, no dine-in will be allowed, only delivery and take-out.

The EO also said that malls in the city will be allowed to operate under limited capacity, and should strictly observe the proper health protocols such as social distancing and conduct of temperature checks.

Still not allowed

In Bacolod, these establishments are not allowed to operate:

For the public markets, entrances and exits shall be regulated, and that there will be markers to indicate the space for the vendors and the buyers, the EO said.

The mayor also said in the EO that businesses in the essential goods and services are strongly encouraged to extend their daily operations to a maximum of 12 hours convenient to both the customers and the proprietors.

Physical classes will be suspended for the duration of the GCQ, he said, and that gatherings will be allowed with limited attendance up to 10 persons.

Limited outdoor exercises will be allowed, such as outdoor walks, jogging, running, and bilking with safety protocols, as well as limited-contact sports, like golf and tennis, the EO said.

"Bacolodnons still need to take necessary precautions under GCQ, especially in limiting the movement of people and transportation to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while allowing some normalcy back into our community life," Leonardia said. –