Palace spokesman Harry Roque clarified on Friday that the ban on mass gatherings, including religious and work-related, still applied in areas placed under general community quarantine (GCQ).

Public construction and public-private partnership projects such as road and transport repairs and other “priority projects,” are allowed, Roque said in a Radyo Pilipinas interview.

“Pinapayagan na [ang construction] ngayon kasi alam naman natin na kinakailangang buhayin ang ekonomiya… [p]ero ang norm pa rin po ngayon ay social distancing,” Roque said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) had appealed to lift the ban on such gatherings and implement a mandatory two-meter social distancing, but Roque said local leaders opposed the IATF proposal.

Roque explained that governors of GCQ areas may implement enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) autonomously in specific component cities or municipalities, but only the IATF can declare GCQ or EQC in entire provinces.

Starting May 1, only “high-risk” areas Metro Manila, Central Luzon (except for Aurora), Calabarzon, Pangasinan, Benguet (including Baguio City) Iloilo (including Iloilo City), Cebu (including Cebu City) Bacolod City and Davao City, remained ECQ. The extension lasts until May 15.

The more relaxed GCQ will be applied to all other provinces. John Ezekiel J. Hirro