A breath of fresh air during trying times.
This seems to be the public’s general sentiment after a policy shift to granular instead of wide-scale lockdowns in areas with high coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) infections is being mulled in September.
If approved by the President, more people can now return to work in industries allowed to operate except in areas under the granular lockdowns.
But on the downside, even authorized persons outside residence (APOR) except health care workers (HCW) will be barred from being outdoors under granular lockdowns as confirmed by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año in a Viber message on Friday night, August 27.
Under the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), APOR are allowed to leave their residence to report to work in businesses allowed to operate.
“Strict lockdown kasi yan kaya kahit APOR ay bawal lumabas except HCW. Kapag lumabas sila ay hindi na sila papayagan makabalik until matapos ang (granular) lockdown. (It is under strict lockdowns that is why even APOR are not permitted to leave except HCW. If they go out they are not allowed to return until the end of the lockdown),’’ Año said.
The DILG chief noted that “the HCW may be provided with accommodations by respective hospitals or LGUs (local government units). Appropriate ayuda or assistance will be provided by LGUs and/or DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development).
“Final details (on granular lockdown policy) are still being discussed at the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force),’’ he added.
However, the regulation of barring APORs to return to work did not sit well with some no work no pay workers, specifically those living in highly congested and depressed areas where chances of having high and frequent COVID-19 infection rates are more likely.
Boy Piilias, a factory worker from Quezon City working in Cainta, Rizal admitted that his family will fall deeper to hard times if the mobility of APORs like him are restricted in the event that granular lockdowns are enforced in his area.
“ Ang pangakong ayuda ay maaring hindi sapat para tustusan ang pangangailangan ng aking pamilya kung ang APOR ay babawalang lumabas sa mga lugar na nasa granular lockdown. Kahit bago mag pandemic mahirap na ang buhay lalo na ngayong limitado and shifting sa trabaho namin dahil sa COVID-19 (The promise of ayuda may not be enough to cover for the needs of my family if APORs are not allowed to go out in areas under granular lockdowns. Even before the pandemic, times were already difficult much more when we had limited working shifts due to COVID-19),’’ Pillas said.
A dejected Pillas is in a quandary if the government’s coffers can sustain its ayuda distribution tasks to the low-income individuals in the event the lockdowns last “halos habangbuhay (almost forever).’’
“As for the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine, the country’s strictest lockdown level, it would be up to the national government,’’ Año explained. (Chito A. Chavez)