By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said that the general community quarantine (GCQ) will be the “new normal” unless a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is developed.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement as some areas in the country transition to the GCQ, while some stay under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until May 15 due to the threat of COVID-19.
In an interview over DZMM, Roque said that the Philippines cannot return to what it knew as normal because of the effects of the global health crisis.
“We are no longer back to normal as we know it po. Ang GCQ po ay ayan na po ang (The GCQ is the) new normal,” he said.
“Hanggang wala pong bakuna (As long as there is no vaccine), we cannot go back to normal as we know it,” he added.
Under the GCQ, workers to go out and work in phases. Young people, senior citizens, and high health risks would stay at home.
The industries allowed to resume full operation are agriculture, fishery, forestry, food manufacturing and its entire supply chain, food retail, healthcare, logistics, public utilities, telecommunications, and the media.
Electronics, exports, e-commerce and delivery for essential and non-essential items, repair and maintenance services, and housing and office services are allowed to resume operations by at least 50 percent.
Meanwhile, industries that can resume on-site operations by 50 percent while the other half can continue working from home are financial services, business process outsourcing (BPO), other non-leisure wholesale and retail trade, and other non-leisure services.
Non-leisure shop in malls in areas under GCQ may partially open. These include supermarkets, drugstores, banks, laundry service, restaurants (for take-out and delivery only), and hardwares. Employees, however, should be provided with masks and gloves.
A limited number of people, particularly those aged 21 to 59, with ID and not looking sickly, would be allowed to go inside malls. The aircon temperature will likewise be raised to 26 degrees and access to free WiFi will be removed.
Public transport modes would also be allowed to operate at reduced capacity and local government units (LGUs) would enforce curfew at night for non-workers.
In his interview, Roque explained that some workers and industries under the GCQ were allowed to resume operations in order to give them a new start.
“Binibigyan lang natin ng pagkakataon na kahit papaano magsimula muli ang mga local economies sa mga lugar na nasa GCQ pero normal as we know it, hindi pa po tayo makakabalik sa ganoon (We are just giving local economies under GCQ to somehow start again but normal, as we know it, we won’t be able to go back to that),” he said.