By Jean Fernando

Paranaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez disclosed Monday that majority of the Metro Manila mayors are now backing the shifting of modified enhanced community (MECQ) in the metropolis into general community quarantine (GCQ) by June 1.

edwin olivarez - Olivarez discloses that majority of MM mayors back shift to GCQ

Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez (Mayor Edwin Olivarez FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

Olivarez, presently the chairman of the Metro Manila Council (MMC), said that 14 out of 17 mayors in the National Capital Region preferred their cities to the placed under GCQ after May 31 but health and safety protocols will remain and strictly implemented.

He said that several mayors agreed with him that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is creating a “devastating effect” on the livelihood of workers and employers particularly in Metro Manila.

“Prolonged community quarantine will have severe economic effects which in and of themselves, will impact the lives of people so negatively,” Olivarez explained.

He said the council is set to meet on Wednesday to come up with single recommendation on whether or not to downgrade the community quarantine status in the metropolis.

GCQ is a more relaxed form of community quarantine. Areas deemed by the task force as at “low” or “moderate” risk for an outbreak are under GCQ. Under GCQ, public transportation resumes at a reduced capacity, people can go back to work in certain sectors, and “non-leisure” establishments can open apart from essential ones.

Olivarez said the national government’s efforts against the coronavirus disease have already helped slow the rate of infection, allowing local government units to better handle the situation should restrictions be eased.

Olivarez reminded Metro Manila residents, however, to not be complacent and to continue following quarantine protocols, as retaining ECQ to Metro Manila is still possible.

He informed residents of Metro Manila that NCR remains the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Consequently, the MMC is expected to submit its recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), which will then decide whether to extend the MECQ in Metro Manila or change it to GCQ.

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