CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 17 April) — Alarmed by the surge of private vehicles and crowds in malls, markets and even in posh subdivisions under a community quarantine, local officials here decided to impose more stringent quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Mayor Oscar Moreno signed Executive Order no. 062 requiring each family here to use their Barangay Exit Pass effective Monday, April 20, the start of the implementation of the “no pass, no travel” policy.
At present, residents can get out of their houses anytime except during curfew hours from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The Barangay Exit Pass will be distributed to the households and will be used by a household member when going out of their homes to buy food or medicine or go to the banks. The pass can be used by any of the household members except senior citizens, pregnant and those who are ill.
A household member who will use the pass has to wear a face mask. Barangay Exit Passes cannot be used during curfew hours.
“The intention is for people to stay home because the virus might just be lurking around here,” Mayor Morneo said, adding that residents became complacent when they saw a downtrend in the number of persons under investigation for COVID-19.
Last week, a surge of private vehicles on the streets of Cagayan de Oro and crowds defying social distancing alarmed Moreno and other officials.
A big crowd descended as early as 4 a.m. in Cogon public market on Thursday morning, April 16, prompting police to intervene since it was still curfew.
Shiny SUVs and cars were seen on the streets of Cagayan de Oro where there was none when the community quarantine was implemented on March 20.
Parties were even reported held in posh subdivisions and gated communities in the city.
Every day, big crowds of people are present at the grocery sections of SM Uptown and S&R Membership Shopping in Barangay Kauswagan.
Police and security guards had to drive away joggers and physical fitness buffs in one of the favorite fields at the back of SM Uptown in Upper Carmen.
Moreno said they have to put a stop to all of these activities as these could become sources of transmission of the virus.
In the guidelines, each family will have one Barangay Exit Pass that would be issued and distributed by the barangays.
“You do not have to apply or get the pass. Barangay officials will deliver them to families,” Teddy Sabugaa, head of the Cagayan de Oro City Social Welfare and Development said.
Sabugaa said those who are living alone will also be issued a Barangay Exit Pass.
He said barangay officials have until Sunday, April 19, to distribute passes to their constituents.
Sabugaa stressed the passes, which are transferable to anyone among the household members, are not for sale.
He added that those who have passes should also wears face masks when they get out of their houses.
When using a vehicle, only one is allowed to use the pass, preferably the driver, he said.
Sabugaa said exempted from the new measure are employees in exempted category issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID).
The list of Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR) includes workers in essential services and delivery of goods and other necessities, and authorized government officials.
Also exempted are medical, funeral, emergency responders, security, workers of banks, delivery personnel, utilities personnel such as in telecommunications, water, and electricity and journalists.
The decision to issue the passes was reached during a meeting by Mayor Moreno the Emergency Operation Cluster on COVID-19 after the press conference in City Hall on Black Saturday.
A City Hall insider told MindaNews that the cluster heads who are chiefs of various departments, presented to Moreno their observation on private transportation and big crowds in the city.
Total lockdown or Barangay Exit Pass?
Another City Hall source said the cluster presented Moreno with two options: total lockdown or Barangay Exit Pass.
Moreno opted for the Barangay Exit Pass right away, the source said.
The mayor said the influx of people in the groceries and markets was triggered by the infusion of COVID-19 aid money from the barangays, city government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“Everyone has money. It was like election time when money was flowing everywhere,” he said.
Moreno said when people have money, the tendency for them is to spend it on food because they have been on sardine-rice diet for two weeks. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews