President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Monday night that Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal would return to the less stringent general community quarantine (GCQ) from Aug. 19 to 31. 

These areas were placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4 to 18 after medical frontliners appealed for a “time-out” as hospitals were overwhelmed with Covid-19 admissions.

The provinces of Batangas, Nueva Ecija and Quezon; the cities of Iloilo, Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Talisay; and the municipalities of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu province will also be under GCQ.

The decision was made to revive the economy, according to Palace spokesman Harry Roque, who said last Aug. 11 that extending the MECQ beyond Aug. 18 would not be viable as the government’s resources for subsidies had already been depleted.

In a Palace briefing earlier on Monday, Roque revealed that Metro Manila mayors and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases had unanimously recommended the capital region’s shift to GCQ.

The rest of the country will remain under modified GCQ until Aug. 31.

The country has 164,474 Covid-19 cases as of Aug. 17, of which 49,034 were active. John Ezekiel J. Hirro