'Modified' GCQ also a possible scenario in Metro Manila by June 1 — MMDA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — A "modified" general community quarantine (MGCQ) in Metro Manila by June 1 is one of the options being tabled by the government to further ease restrictions and recover from economic losses brought by the COVID-19.

Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Jojo Garcia said a location or sector-specific lockdown would be more "manageable" for local communities should the national government decide to downgrade from a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) by then.

Should that proposal push through, Metro Manila would be under the most loose of four quarantine scenarios, even more lax than a barangay-wide lockdown.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said Metro Manila will likely be placed under the GCQ — where there are more restrictions than MGCQ — by June 1. But he said areas that still have infections may remain under more stringent control.

"Modified ECQ, I think that's what we're doing right now. If ever pwedeng may modified GCQ siguro, meaning open ang ating...ating mga establishments,(If ever we enforce a modified GCQ as well, meaning, establishments would be open) but the mayors can decide if they're going to lock down certain sectors or place," Garcia told CNN Philippines' New Day.

"Sabi ko nga, nung huli kami nag -usap, it's better mas maliit ang i-lockdown mo, mas manageable, mas controllable," Garcia said, referring to his previous meeting with Metro Manila mayors.

[Translation: Like I said the last time we talked, it's better if you implement a lockdown on a smalleter unit, it's more manageable, more controllable.]

In Quezon City, for example, there's one barangay with a population of 200,000, but Garcia said you cannot lock down 200,000 people. "Siguro yung mga purok purok, they call it sectors lang, kalsada," he added.

[Translation: Perhaps that could work for districts, they call it sectors or roads only.]

Some areas of Quezon City have been placed under a 14-day special concern lockdown since May 13 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Quezon City has the biggest population among cities in Metro Manila, and currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the region, according to the Department of Health.

Metro Manila, along with Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan and other provinces are still all considered "high-risk" areas under the MECQ until May 31.

Currently under GCQ are areas where COVID-19 infections are considered to be "low-risk." Residents below 21 years old or 60 years old and above, pregnant women and people with health risks such as immunodeficiency conditions, are not allowed to leave home in GCQ areas, unless their circumstance requires them to head out to get essential goods and services.

The Metro Manila Council, composed of mayors of 16 cities and the municipality of Pateros, will be meeting on May 27 to come up with a recommendation on the capital’s lockdown status after May 31.

MMC chairman Edwin Olivarez said easing quarantine restrictions will have to be balanced with ensuring the health of the public.

To date, there are over 14,000 confirmed cases of the viral disease in the Philippines, with over 800 deaths and more than 3,000 recoveries.