MECQ leaves local musicians in CdeO without gigs

A fast food worker cleans and disinfects their restaurant in Divisoria after curfew hours in Cagayan de Oro City on Monday (7 June 2021). The city government implemented a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew to curb the rising COVID-19cases. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 16 July) — Local musicians have suffered the economic impact of restrictions imposed by government in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, with many restaurants now saying they could no longer afford to hire them.

The decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases extending the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in Cagayan de Oro for another 15 days, from July 16-31, only made things worse for them, local musician Jun Gregorio said.

“This will be another nail for local musicians,” a stunned Gregorio, who had eagerly waited for the IATF’s decision, said of the MECQ extension.

This was the third extension of the strictest quarantine protocol so far in Cagayan de Oro.

President Rodrigo Duterte had extended the MECQ twice, first on June 15 and the second on June 30.

The IATF implemented the second strictest quarantine protocol in Cagayan de Oro starting in May after a surge in COVID-19 cases threatened the city’s hospital system.

Gregorio said he thought the IATF would ease the quarantine following a decrease in COVID-19 cases in the first two weeks of July.

He said local musicians have been suffering economically since the MECQ was implemented in May.

He lamented that they no longer have gigs with many restaurants now saying they can no longer afford to hire performers.

“Local restaurants are operating at only 50-percent capacity and have only limited time since the curfew starts at 9pm,” Gregorio said.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in Region 10 estimated the hotel, accommodation and food services lost P166 million during the period from June 1-30.

In its “Northern Mindanao Socioeconomic Outlook,” NEDA 10 said some 320 business firms and hotels in Cagayan de Oro have reduced or retrenched their workforce.

Councilor George Goking, who chairs the Cagayan de Oro City Council trade and commerce committee, said the city has been paying a high price to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases.

Goking said they estimated that the city’s economy lost P15 billion from June 1 to July 15. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)