How gov’t’s abrupt MECQ shift in NCR derailed business ops, other important schedules

September 8, 2021 - 3:27 PM
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Image by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

The national government made a last-minute change into the quarantine classifications again, thus severely affecting many business operations and workers.

Metro Manila was retained under the modified enhanced community quarantine until September 15.

In a text message to reporters on September 7, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also announced that the pilot run for the planned granular lockdowns in the region was deferred for the time being.

“Metro Manila’s current risk classification as Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine shall be maintained until September 15, 2021, or until the pilot GCQ with Alert Level System is implemented, whichever comes first,” he was quoted as saying.

NCR, along with other regions, was supposed to transition to the general community quarantine with heightened restrictions starting September 8 until September 30.

The granular lockdown strategy, on the other hand, was scheduled to start on September 8.

RELATED: Robredo joins calls for ramped-up testing, contact tracing amid pending granular lockdowns

However, no guidelines were issued on how NCR officials will implement this new approach.

Roque, who is also the spokesperson for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), only mentioned a possibility of him announcing these guidelines within that day or on Wednesday morning or when the granular lockdowns are expected to begin.

The earlier decision to shift to GCQ was criticized by many as the country has been recording an average of 18,000 COVID-19 cases daily in the past two weeks.

Last-minute changes

With little window time, Filipinos, particularly small business owners, had to make adjustments again on their business operations and other important activities due to the renewed restrictions.

The Facebook page of luxury buffet NIU by Vikings was among the businesses that voiced out sentiments about the situation.

“This is real. This is us. All the excitement and preparation done to welcome you all back, yet have to be contained once again because of the last-minute announcement and change of plans,” the restaurant said.

“There’s nothing we can do but to wait and wish that we all keep and stay safe until we see each other again. To better days ahead!” it added.

They reposted a post by Facebook user Inchang Mendoza, a business owner, who also lamented that she has to do away with their preparations because of the policy shift.

“’Yung nagpa meeting ka, tapos nagpa-general cleaning na din para nga sana bukas! At bumili na din ng daan-daan kilo pork, chicken and beef. Ending last minute i-announce na na MECQ ulit,” the business owner said.

“Dear Goverment maawa naman kayo sa mga taong sobrang naapektuhan n nag tratrabaho ng maayos!” the user wrote.

Nol Montalbo, the owner of the massage parlor franchise Mont Albo Massage Hut, also noted the same struggles of the wellness and personal care services industry.

“If this is difficult for the F&B sector, just imagine what the beauty, wellness, fitness and pampering sector is going through,” he wrote.

A videographer named Alfon Silva, meanwhile, shared the difficulties being experienced by the video production industry workers.

“Matapos kami mag prep for our shoot tomorrow at makiusap sa location namin to give us permission to push through (after a lot of rescheduling) since back to GCQ na dapat, biglang MECQ nanaman. Pagod na us (crying emoji) we have to cancel our suppliers, talents and art department again,” he wrote.

Veteran reporter Ces Oreña-Drilon was among those who commented on the government’s sudden move. She stressed the impact of the pandemic task force’s indecisiveness in their lockdown measures.

“Dear government you cant keep changing your minds about whether to imposed GCQ, ECQ or GCQ w/ heightened restrictions. Businesses spent their dwindling capital and called in employees to reopen tomorrow only to realize they can’t. Paano ba yan? There has to be a better way,” Drilon wrote.

This flip-flopping of quarantine phases have been among the main complaints of the public since early this year as new classifications were imposed nearly every week.

READ: Changing quarantine phases: Little window to implement lockdown rules derails daily ops

Last August, when Metro Manila was reverted to the strictest lockdown again, the IATF was delayed in issuing their new quarantine classifications.

The enhanced community quarantine for that period should have been lifted on August 20.

The new resolution, however, only came late at night of August 19.

READ: Last-minute MECQ: IATF’s announcement ‘late’ again, residents say