GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 25 April) — The city government has started formulating its “restart plan” for the local economy as it braces for the possible downgrading of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures here next week.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera said on Saturday he directed the city’s inter-agency task force (IATF) on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to craft strategies and guidelines for the phased opening of economic activities after the end of the ongoing ECQ on April 30.
He said the move could include the easing of movement restrictions, especially within the city’s central business district.
“We’re currently looking at that scenario since our suspected and probable Covid-19 cases were already going down these past weeks,” Rivera said in a radio interview.
The mayor said they will wait for guidance from the national IATF, which was still reviewing whether the city will retain the ECQ status or downgrade to general community quarantine (GCQ).
The city, which recorded a confirmed Covid-19 case but has since recovered, was included in the orange category or moderate to low-risk areas based on the national IATF’s recommendation that was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte
He said they expect the decision, which was based on the assessment of the Department of Health-Region 12, to come out before April 30.
Records from the Department of Health’s Center for Health Development in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) show that as of April 24, General Santos has only one confirmed case but has recovered, and 38 suspects, three of whom are still admitted, 20 discharged, 12 outpatients and three dead.
Regardless of the outcome of the IATF assessment, Rivera said the city and the rest of the country will remain under community quarantine so people should still expect some restrictions.
In the city, he said the “odd-even scheme” for motor vehicles will continue but the clustering of barangays might be modified to complement with the proposed opening of some business establishments.
He said they are considering the phased opening of businesses to initially cover computer stores, auto supply outlets, clothing shops, restaurants and other similar establishments.
Leisure and entertainment establishments as well as resorts will remain closed under the modified GCQ.
The mayor said they are studying the possibility of moving up to 9 p.m. the start of the curfew hours, which is currently observed from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
He said public transportation “slowly” returning to normal but the wearing of face masks as well as the social and physical distancing measures will be strictly implemented.
“This is applicable to all businesses that will be allowed to open. These are the new normal that we have to embrace,” Rivera said.
But the mayor assured that the city government will continue to strengthen the control measures against COVID-19 as well as improve its contact-tracing and referral systems for possible patients.
He said they will continue to fast track the ongoing establishment of a COVID-19 testing center and the completion of the isolation facility or patient care center at the local government-run Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital.
Rivera said the city’s borders will remain closed and they are considering deploying a joint task force composed of police and Army personnel to man the checkpoints.
“Rest assured that as we start to open up our economy, we will continue to level up with our efforts to bring to the minimum level, if not eliminate, the threat of COVID-19 in our city,” he added. (MindaNews)