GCQ to remain in Metro Manila as Philippines tackles virus

June 16, 2020 - 11:08 AM
Passengers queue to go to the train platform as social distancing is strictly implemented on the trains on its first day of reopening since the lockdown to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) over two months ago, in Manila, Philippines, June 1, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday partial restrictions or general community quarantine would remain in place in the capital Manila for another two weeks because the threat from the new coronavirus was still present.

But Duterte reinstated strict lockdown rules or the enhanced community quarantine in Cebu City, the country’s fifth most populous city, following an increase in new infections there.

“The battle against COVID-19 is not yet over,” Duterte said in an address late on Monday.

Restrictions were further eased in provinces and cities with low cases of the virus to help restore business activity in the Southeast Asian economy, which is expected to shrink for the first time in more than two decades this year.

The lockdown in the capital, Manila, which was one of the world’s longest and strictest, was relaxed on June 1 to reduce the economic damage of the pandemic.

The relaxed rules, which allowed the reopening of more industries, some public transportation and movement in and out of Manila, were set to expire on June 15.

Schools, universities and tourist destinations, however, will stay closed, while stay-at-home orders will remain for the elderly and children,

“We are gradually easing restrictions to make way for our economic viability as individuals and as a nation, but it does not mean we will forget our minimum health standards,” Duterte said.

On Monday, restaurants in the capital were allowed to reopen dine-in services but on a limited scale, to allow more workers to go back to work.

The country’s unemployment rate surged to a record 17.7% in April as millions lost their jobs due to the lockdown.

While the capital accounts for half of the country’s 26,420 confirmed coronavirus cases, authorities have recorded a spike in the number of infections in Cebu City after curbs were gradually eased there. —Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Editing by Mark Potter