GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 29 May) – Movement restrictions for majority of residents here will be lifted effective Saturday, May 30, as the city eases into modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) as directed by the national government.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said Friday they decided to start this weekend the implementation of more relaxed quarantine measures after the city was included in areas classified as low risk for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and placed under MGCQ.
The entire Region 12 or Soccsksargen will be under MGCQ effective June 1 as declared by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).
The mayor said the local government will fully comply with the guidelines set by the IATF-MEID on the downgrading of the area’s community quarantine.
Under the MGCQ, the city government will lift the clustering of barangays, use of the enhanced quarantine pass (EQP), curfew for adults, odd-even scheme for private vehicles and the total lockdown every Sunday.
All quarantine cluster control points and related checkpoints within the city will also be removed.
With the lifting of barangay clustering, the normal operations of public utility vehicles and tricycles, the city’s main mode of public transportation, will also resume.
“Basically, our city is now open,” Rivera said in a press conference.
The mayor said they will observe some restrictions on mass gatherings but decided to allow church services and other religious activities to resume, provided that minimum safety and health standards are observed.
He cited the mandatory use of face masks and the practice of safe physical distancing, with seating arrangements of at least 1.5 meters apart.
“We realized that our churches are essential at this time since many people were facing problems and already affected mentally because of the (COVID-19) crisis,” he said.
Rivera said they will essentially allow all businesses to reopen, including internet cafés and resorts as long as the proper safety standards are met.
But he said all business establishments were prohibited from accommodating minors and persons considered as “immuno-compromised” as the “24-hour curfew” for them will remain in effect.
Enforcers will be deployed to ensure the proper observance of the wearing of face masks and safe physical distancing in public places and establishments.
He said it is important for everyone to remain cautious and vigilant as the threats posed by the spread of COVID-19 still persist and with the city facing challenges with the arrival of the returning overseas Filipino workers and locally-stranded individuals.
“We’re almost under the new normal so these will be strictly enforced. But as a general rule, those who don’t have any important transaction should just stay home,” he said.
As to the city’s borders, the mayor said they will continue to tighten the monitoring of persons passing through the checkpoints, especially those coming from areas with sustained local transmission of COVID-19.
He added that they were still waiting for guidelines from the IATF-MEID regarding the operations of passenger buses and vans, which remain suspended as of this time. (MindaNews)