Non-essential businesses warned against reopening during lockdown

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 15 2020 02:42 PM

A man wearing a protective mask on his neck walks past closed shops in an empty street following the lockdown in the Philippine capital to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manila, Philippines, March 24, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters/file photo

MANILA- The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) warned Wednesday against the reopening of non-essential businesses in Luzon as it reminded the public on the extended lockdown until April 30.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año instructed local government units and the Philippine National Police to close non-essential businesses operating while the enhanced community quarantine or ECQ is in effect.

“If there is resistance or disobedience to authorities, the PNP has the authority to make arrests. Nasa gitna tayo ng state of public health emergency at kalamidad," Año said in a statement.

(We are in the middle of a state of public health emergency and calamity.)

"The ECQ is still in full force and effect. There is no partial lifting whatsoever," he said.

The DILG chief said he issued the warning after reports reached his agency that some non-essential businesses reopened in certain areas in Luzon.

The government only allows businesses providing basic goods and essential services to operate during the lockdown, which aims to arrest the spread of COVID-19. Filipinos were also told to stay home to control the spread of the infectious disease.

The lockdown, which was scheduled to end on April 12, was extended to April 30 as the government said it needed more time to prepare for a "new normal."

Policemen manning checkpoints will be stricter in screening travelers if they are allowed out of their homes, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said also on Wednesday.

The tougher measures come after South Luzon Expressway saw an influx of vehicles headed for Metro Manila on Tuesday, and after the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority reported an increase in vehicles plying EDSA.

"Sana po intindihin natin na magiging effective lang itong ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) sa pag-contain ng COVID-19 kung tayo ay hindi basta-basta na lang nakakaikot at nakakalabas," Nograles said in a virtual press briefing.

(I hope you understand that this ECQ will only be effective in containing COVID-19 if we don't just roam around and go out of our homes.)

The Philippines on Tuesday said it has a cumulative 5,223 cases of COVID-19. Of the said figure, 295 have recovered and 335 have died.