MANILA (UPDATED) — Metro Manila will shift to a regular general community quarantine from July 16, while 9 areas will be under the second toughest of 4 lockdown levels, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Home to some 13 million people, the capital region was under GCQ "with some restrictions" until July 15.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved Metro Manila's shift to GCQ from July 16 to 31, said his spokesman Harry Roque.
This allows restaurants to offer dining-in services at 50 percent of their venue capacity. Gyms can also operate at 50 percent of cenue capacity at regular GCQ, he said.
The last time Metro Manila was under GCQ was in March.
Later that month, the region was placed under the toughest lockdown—enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)—after a spike in coronavirus cases. The surge eventually eased, allowing the region's lockdown level to be gradually downgraded.
SECOND TOUGHEST LOCKDOWN
The following areas will be placed under the second strictest quarantine level, modified ECQ, effective July 16, said Roque.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved the following community quarantine classifications for the rest of July, said Roque.
Iloilo City and Iloilo province (until July 22 only)
Cagayan De Oro City
Davao De Oro
Davao Del Norte
Davao Del Sur
"Kung hindi po mag-improve ang ating mga numero ay posible po na mabago muli ang classification ng Iloilo City at Iloilo," Roque said in a taped message.
(If our numbers do not improve, it is possible that the classification of Iloilo City and Iloilo will be changed again.)
GCQ, HEIGHTENED GCQ
Roque said the following areas would be under GCQ "with heightened restrictions from July 16 to 31.
Zamboanga del Sur
Also under GCQ "with heightened restrictions" from July 16 to 22 are the following, he said.
Like Metro Manila, the following areas will be under regular GCQ from July 16 to 31, Roque said.
City of Santiago
City of Zamboanga
Zamboanga del Norte
General Santos City
Agusan del Norte
Surigao del Norte
Agusan del Sur
Surigao del Sur
All other areas in the country will be placed under the least stringent level, modified GCQ, for rest of July, the Palace said.
ON APPEALS, RISING CASES
The health department on Tuesday said parts in Metro Manila recorded an increase in COVID-19 cases in the past 2 weeks.
Asked why the region shifted to regular GCQ despite this, Roque said, "Ang tingin po natin is kabuuan. Bagamat meron pong 7 cities na tumaas by and large po bumaba ang threat."
(We look at the whole. Though there are cities with increases, byy and large, the threat has gone down.)
Factors for an area's quarantine level include the daily attack rate of COVID-19, the utilization level of the healthcare system, and the local government's capacity to race and isolate potential patients, he said in a chance interview.
Eleven local governments outside Metro Manila appealed against their initial quarantine classification. Most got their request, and for those that did not, one comprise was setting their quarantine only until July 22, Roque said.
The pandemic has battered the Philippine economy, triggering millions of jobs losses, prompting policy makers to call for the easing of lockdown measures to help boost domestic spending.
COVID-19 infection rates have fallen from a peak in March and April as more people become vaccinated, but officials have said some restrictions must be retained in and outside the capital region given the threat posed by new variants.
Schools in the country remain shut, social gatherings are still restricted and public transport services are operating below capacity.
As of July 15, confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines reached 1.49 million, while the number of fatalities totaled more than 26,300.
Unlike other Southeast Asian neighbors, the Philippine has not yet detected community transmission of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
— With a report from Reuters