Government irons out new granular lockdown strategy vs COVID-19

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2021 02:33 PM | Updated as of Sep 07 2021 03:18 PM

A man passes by a mural by artists Sim Tolentino, Bryan Barrios and Moks featuring images of people during the COVID-19 pandemic painted on the walls of the Columban Missionaries building on Singalong Street in Manila on on Sept. 6, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
A man passes by a mural by artists Sim Tolentino, Bryan Barrios and Moks featuring images of people during the COVID-19 pandemic painted on the walls of the Columban Missionaries building on Singalong Street in Manila on on Sept. 6, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Government said on Tuesday it was ironing out guidelines for the shift to granular lockdowns in Metro Manila starting Sept. 8 to support the economy despite the continuing pandemic. 

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said he was supposed to announce the guidelines but was told these would be finalized during a 3 p.m. meeting of the inter-agency task force on COVID-19. He said he might announce the rules later Tuesday or on Wednesday.

"Kung hindi talaga lalabas 'yang mga guidelines na 'yan today, the effectivity will have to be day after tomorrow, to be fair, kasi hindi alam ng tao kung anong mangyayari, lalo na 'yong mga industriya na pupuwede magbukas," Roque said in a press briefing. 

(If the guidelines will not be released today, the effectivity will have to be day after tomorrow, to be fair, because the people do not know what will happen, especially which industries can reopen.)

"We will be reasonable. Tama naman na the application should be prospective after malaman ng taongbayan," he added. 

(It is right that the application should be prospective after the public knows about it.)

Metro Manila will be under general community quarantine from Sept. 8 to 30, the second lowest quarantine level, even as the country continued to log new record highs in daily COVID-19 tallies. But Roque said the region's 16 cities and lone town may have various alert levels in the same period. 

Region-wide lockdowns have proved to be costly for the economy, which is now expected to grow less than previously thought after the capital region was placed under the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last month, which were later eased. 

"The truth of the matter is the ECQ as we practice, it may not be enough, we need to come up with new strategy," Roque said on Monday. 

The Philippines exited recession in the second quarter of 2021 after 5 consecutive quarters of GDP contraction.

But a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases forced authorities to impose stricter curbs in August, leading to a cut in this year's economic growth outlook to 4.0 to 5.0 percent, from 6.0 to 7.0 percent previously.

Daily cases in the past 30 days alone accounted for more than a fifth of the country's total infections of over 2.1 million, while deaths have exceeded 34,000.

The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated about 15.2 million of its 109 million people against COVID-19, leaving millions still vulnerable. 

— With a report from Reuters 

Video courtesy of PTV