By Genalyn Kabiling
The government has called for “fair and humane” penalties for people who violate quarantine restrictions in several parts of the country.
The enforcement of curfew and penalties for quarantine violators by the local government units (LGUs) are included in the new quarantine guidelines issued by Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Thursday.
“LGUs are enjoined to enact the necessary ordinances to enforce curfew for non-workers in jurisdictions placed under GCQ (general community quarantine) and to penalize, in a fair and humane manner, violations of the restrictions on the movement of people as provided under these Omnibus Guidelines,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing, reading the latest IATF resolution.
LGUs are also urged to issue ordinances on the mandatory wearing of face masks and the prohibition of discrimination against frontliners and coronavirus patients.
To reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, Roque said everyone is mandated to wear face masks or other protective equipment whenever they leave their houses.
“Concerned LGUs are hereby enjoined to issue the necessary executive order or ordinance to that effect, and to provide fair and humane penalties,” he said.
To stem the spread of the new coronavirus disease, Metro Manila and several other areas with a high risk of infection will be placed under extended community quarantine (ECQ) until mid-May. The ECQ measures include the suspension of public transportation, ban on large gatherings, and operation of only essential establishments such as food, drug stores, public utilities, and delivery services.
The government, on the other hand, will enforce a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) in several areas with a moderate to low risk of infection starting May 1. Public transportation will be allowed at reduced capacity, essential work-related and religious gatherings are permitted subject to distancing protocols, while more industries and services have been given a green light to reopen. Work in government offices may also resume at full capacity or under alternative work arrangements.
In both ECQ and GCQ areas, people below 21 years old, those 60 years old and above, pregnant women, and those with health risks must stay at home “at all times” except when getting essential goods and services or going to work.
The government has also warned against the discrimination of health workers, repatriated Filipinos, as well as those who are confirmed, suspect, and probable coronavirus cases.
“Acts in furtherance of discrimination, such, but not limited to, coercion, libel, slander, physical injuries, and the dishonor of contractual obligations such as contracts of lease or employment, shall be dealt with criminally, civilly, and/or administratively,” Roque said.
“LGUs are enjoined to issue the necessary executive orders and/or enact ordinances prohibiting and penalizing these discriminatory acts,” he added.