Easing of entire PH into MGCQ eyed by Q1 2021

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 31) — All areas in the country should shift to the lowest form of community quarantine by the first quarter of 2021, according to targets set by the Department of Health.

Modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) is currently in place throughout the country except Metro Manila, the epicenter of the local coronavirus outbreak, and six other cities and provinces. The capital region, as well as Batangas, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Tacloban City, Iligan City and Lanao del Sur, will remain under the stricter general community quarantine (GCQ) for the month of November.

In an online media briefing on Saturday, Health Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that local government units should have efficient surveillance and contact tracing systems to enjoy relaxed quarantine measures. They should meet the requirements needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease, as well as detect, isolate, and treat infected patients.

“Doon sa (In the) targets and milestones na ating inilatag, aming tinitingnan na baka (that we have set, we are looking at maybe) by first quarter of 2021, hopefully all local governments will be able to shift to MGCQ already because they have achieved their gatekeeping indicators,” Vergeire said.

Under MGCQ, mass gatherings such as movie screenings, concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment activities, religious services, and work conferences are allowed up to 50% of venue capacity. These are all prohibited under GCQ, except for religious services, as the government allows churches and other places of worship to accept up to 30% of their seating capacity.

The government considers MGCQ as the transition phase to the "new normal," marked by the lifting of the community quarantine. The public will only be asked to observe public health standards such as social distancing and regular handwashing.

The country has been under varying levels of lockdown since March due to the coronavirus threat. Restrictions on travel and movement are now being eased to reopen the economy. Some local travel destinations have also started accepting more tourists as long as they test negative for the coronavirus and follow all health protocols.