BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III / GILBERT P. BAYORAN
“We will stay under the General Community Quarantine with heightened restrictions,” Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said yesterday, adding that this status is only from July 16 to 22.
“It’s interesting to note that this is the first time we were given only a period of one week, which probably means that the National Inter-Agency Task Force will be closely observing our situation in Bacolod,” Leonardia said.
“This is the reason why I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the people to strictly adhere to our health protocols so we can avoid the escalation of our quarantine status,” he said.
He noted that there are heightened provisions and restrictions, especially on the aspect on mass gatherings.
Under the “heightened restrictions” classification, public transportation shall remain operational in accordance with the Department of Transportation guidelines, and indoor dine-in services shall be at 20 percent venue or its seating capacity while outdoor or al fresco dining shall be at 50 percent of the venue or seating capacity.
Outdoor tourist attractions may be opened at 30 percent with strict adherence to minimum public health standards, and religious gatherings and gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than Covid-19 shall be allowed up to 10 percent of the venue capacity, the Presidential Communications Operations Office earlier said.
Also continued to be allowed in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions are non-contact sports, games, scrimmages held outdoors, and personal care services that allow for services not requiring mask removal, such as salons, parlors, beauty clinics, etc. at 30 percent capacity.
Entertainment venues, such as bars, concert halls, theaters, recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiards halls, and arcades, amusement parks, fairs, playgrounds, kiddie rides, indoor sports courts and venues and indoor tourist attractions, and meetings, conferences, and exhibitions shall not be allowed in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions.
Leonardia said he will issue a new executive order within the week as they are still finalizing everything because there have been changes in the rules of the NIATF and the city needs to be guided accordingly.
Leonardia reiterated that there are signs of improvement in the Covid situation in Bacolod following the tireless efforts of the city to contain the spread of the virus, through the strict implementation of protocols, expansion of testing, intensified contact tracing, strict border controls, restrictions on mass gatherings, curfew and liquor bans, and alternative work arrangements, among others.
Earlier, he said the city has expanded its healthcare facilities by adding more beds for Covid patients and hiring more medical workers, while capacity utilization rate of Bacolod hospitals was at 64 percent only, and half of those admitted were residents from towns and cities of Negros Occidental.
Emergency Operations Center record showed that, as of July 13, there were 1,435 active Covid cases in Bacolod out of 14,110 accumulated cases, with 12,343 recoveries or about 87.47 percent, and this correlated to the good management and treatment of the disease, it added.
The EOC added that, in the past two weeks, there was a significant decrease of Covid 19 average daily attack rate as it is now pegged at 10.18 percent from 17.49 percent three to four weeks ago.
Despite these improvements in city’s Covid situation, Leonardia said everything remains very unpredictable and anything can happen, hence the cooperation of people is necessary.
He also said that that they are glad that the NIATF listened to the appeal of the city to avoid the imposition of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine in Bacolod that he said is too restrictive and will cause disturbance to the economy.
Frank Carbon, Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer, said they are happy that the NIATF reconsidered its recommendation of placing Bacolod under the MECQ.
Carbon said this would mean that their business will continue and the employees will still have work because if MECQ will be imposed, some businesses will be forced to shut down and many workers will lose their jobs.
NEGROS ON GCQ
Meanwhile, Negros Occidental and Guimaras will remain under the GCQ until July 31, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
Aklan, Antique, and Capiz were placed under GCQ with heightened restrictions until July 22, while Iloilo City and Iloilo province retained their Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine status, also until July 22.
Roque raised the possibility that the classification of Iloilo City and Iloilo province may change, if there are no improvements in the Covid situation in these areas.
Negros Oriental, that was initially under MECQ, was placed on GCQ with heightened restrictions until July 31.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said they have no intention of appealing the GCQ status of Negros Occidental, and the four-day workweek and one day work from home arrangement will continue for Capitol employees.*