If you intend to attend a large gathering in Metro Manila and other areas under general community quarantine (GCQ), better reconsider your plans.
The government has reminded the public that mass gatherings are still prohibited in GCQ areas as a precaution against the coronavirus outbreak.
The country’s case of infections have soared to more than half a million this month while the government battles the spread of a new coronavirus strain first detected in the United Kingdom.
“Wala pong mass gatherings sa GCQ (Mass gatherings are not allowed under GCQ),” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday.
“Hanggang sampu lang po ang pupuwedeng magtipon sa GCQ. Sa mga restaurants, hanggang 70% po ang capacity (Only up to 10 people can gather in GCQ areas. In restaurants, it must be 70 percent capacity),” he added.
Apart from Metro Manila, the areas under GCQ are Santiago City, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Lanao del Sur, Davao City and Davao del Norte until the end of the month. The rest of the country remained under the least restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ). The country’s new quarantine classification for the month of February will be announced soon.
Under the government pandemic task force’s guidelines, mass gatherings such as movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work gatherings are prohibited in GCQ areas.
Exempted from the ban are gatherings related to critical government services and humanitarian activities subject to compliance with minimum health standards.
Religious gatherings in GCQ areas are also allowed up to 30 percent of the seating capacity, provided such assembly is limited to religious worship and/or service.
“The religious denominations should strictly observe their submitted protocols and the minimum public health standards, particularly social distancing measures and non-pharmaceutical interventions such as the obligatory wearing of face masks and immediate availability of hand hygiene necessities in the premises,” the task force said.
Mass gatherings in MGCQ
The government meantime allows limited mass gatherings in areas under MGCQ, the most relaxed of the four lockdown levels imposed by the state to curb the transmission of coronavirus.
Under the IATF guidelines in MGCQ, mass gatherings such as movie screenings and sports and entertainment events are allowed “provided that participants shall be limited to 50 percent of the seating or venue capacity.”
“Sa MGCQ po eh ang rule po diyan is hanggang 50% capacity po ang gatherings ‘no. Kaya nga po iyan ang pinakaimportanteng diperensiya sa MGCQ at saka sa GCQ (In MGCQ, the rule is gatherings can be up to 50 percent capacity. that’s the most important difference between MGCQ and GCQ,” Roque said.
“No mass gatherings in GCQ pero mayroon pong maximum capacity pagdating sa MGCQ (No mass gatherings in GCQ but there’s a maximum capacity in MGCQ areas),” he added.
As the government seeks to revitalize the economy, Roque renewed his appeal to the public to abide by the quarantine rules to prevent the surge in coronavirus cases. Violators of the quarantine rules may face penalties from the concerned local government units.
“Hindi po IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) ang nagpapataw ng parusa, mga lokal na pamahalaan po iyan, sa pamamagitan po ng mga ordinansa (It is not the IATF that will impose the penalty. It’s the local government units through their ordinances),” Roque said about the punishment for quarantine violators.
The government has started to relax the movement curbs a few months ago after the strict lockdown weakened the economy, affected business operations and displaced many workers. To reboot the economy and livelihood of Filipinos, it has gradually allowed more business operations and public transportation but repeatedly reminded compliance with health protocols.
President Duterte recently warned that the country could be in “serious trouble” if the country’s cases would surge to millions. Duterte said he could impose “draconian measures” such as the strict stay-at-home-rule for Filipinos but recognized the adverse impact on the economy and livelihood of the people.