BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Curfew hours in Bacolod City are still from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, chairman of the local Inter-Agency Task Force, said yesterday.
Familiaran made the clarification after several residents expressed confusion as to the current curfew hours in the city.
He said that the new curfew hours, between 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., only cover the towns and cities outside Bacolod as the order came from Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson.
Familiaran explained that Bacolod, being a highly-urbanized city, is excluded from the executive orders of the provincial government.
Last week, Familiaran, Mayor Evelio Leonardia, and the members of the Emergency Operations Center, led by City Administrator Em Ang, held a virtual meeting with the business sector to give updates on the current status of coronavirus disease cases in Bacolod.
At the meeting, Familiaran expressed dismay over the reported continuous breach by some members of the business sector of the current curfew hours and the liquor ban period.
Among the attendees to the meeting were operators of malls, hotels, resorts, restaurants, business process outsourcing companies, and other stores in Bacolod.
Leonardia told the business sector how hard the city government worked to flatten the curve of infections last year and thanked the business community for its cooperation in complying with mandated health protocols that greatly helped in reducing Covid cases from the previous high average of 87 cases per day in September 2020 to an average of only 2 cases per day in February 2021.
However, starting March 26, the situation suddenly changed. Every day since then, cases per day jumped to over 20 cases, an alarming development that resulted in taking more pro-active measures to “nip this spike in the bud,” Leonardia said.
Among those measures is the temporary travel ban into the City of those coming from outside Western Visayas, in an effort to stem the entry of possible carriers of the virus from current epicenters of the viral surge, he said.
Leonardia also explained that, “If our local cases continue to rise, the Inter-Agency Task Force may eventually upgrade the City’s quarantine status to more restrictive categories and such upgrade will again stall the efforts of the business sector that has been trying to recover from the downturn of last year.”
It is vital, Leonardia said, that everyone must cooperate with the mandated health protocols to slow down the rate of contagion and help maintain the MGCQ status.
The Bacolod City Police Office will be asked to monitor violations more closely and impose sanctions as soon as possible.
“While we are presently under MGCQ, we should, act now like we are already on a stricter quarantine status because of the recent spike in our daily Covid cases,” Leonardia said.
P300M FOR VACCINATIONS
The mayor also informed the businessmen that the City has prepared P300 million in local funds for its vaccination program, and chose not to completely depend on the national government for it.
“If it is for the safety and protection of our people against Covid-19, we will go for broke,” Leonardia said.
The mayor also discussed the City’s plans on vaccine availment and rollout, the vaccination education campaign, and the need for people to already register for it even before the vaccines contracted for by the City with AstraZeneca are expected to arrive by the third quarter of this year.
Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya, who also joined the online dialog, appealed with the business owners to strictly comply with the local executive orders and the regulations imposed by the NIATF.
Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said local businesses are also taking steps to “manage the virus at their level.”
Roberto Magalona, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Negros Occidental, expressed his appreciation to the city government for providing support to the business sector and for swiftly getting the NIATF’s approval for the temporary travel moratorium into the City.
Councilor Renecito Novero, chairman of the Quarantine Centers Action Team, said, “We need you in our program against this invisible enemy. Nobody can fight this alone. We are trying our best to protect the balance between lives and livelihood.”
EOC deputy for medical, Dr. Chris Sorongon, reminded the business leaders that should their employees show symptoms, they must be referred immediately to the Bacolod Respiratory Outpatient Center at the BAYS Center for free consultation and free swabbing. OIC-City Health Officer, Dr. Edwin Miraflor Jr., again appealed to businessmen to maintain the observance of minimum health protocols in their establishments.*