(Editor's Note: This article was published on Sept. 28, 2020. On Dec. 28, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte extended the GCQ until Jan. 31, 2021)
It will be another month of GCQ in Metro Manila after President Rodrigo Duterte kept the capital and five other areas under the second lowest quarantine that requires face masks, face shields and physical distancing.
Also under GCQ: Batangas province and the cities of Tacloban, Iloilo, Bacolod and Iligan. The lowest quarantine, MGCQ, remains over the rest of the country, except Lanao del Sur which is under MECQ, the second highest.
Metro Manila mayors recommended continued GCQ until the end of October, but with provisions to increase the operating capacity of businesses and shorten curfews. The think-tank UP Octa, which crunches COVID-19 numbers for the government, had said that the capital region of some 10 million people needs more "time to heal."
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Why does GCQ, MGCQ matter?
General Community Quarantine or GCQ is the second-lowest, one notch above Modified General Community Quarantine or MGCQ. Blanket guidelines from the national government prescribe operating capacity for businesses at GCQ and MGCQ, subject to some changes.
Restrictions get adjusted in real time, depending on the status of cases. The following businesses are allowed only under MGCQ and at 50% capacity: full body massage, tattoo and body piercing and live events and conventions.
The following businesses, allowed to operate up to 30% in GCQ areas, and can increase capacity to 50% in MGCQ: gyms, review centers, internet cafes, drive in cinemas and pet grooming.
Malls can operate at 100% capacity in MGCQ, subject to trade department rules, along with car repair, car sales, job recruitment, fashion and interior design. Restaurant dine-in, barbershops and salons can increase capacity to 75% from 50%.
In tourism, some local governments impose fewer requirements on visitors from areas with MGCQ, compared to GCQ. It can also pave the way for the resumption of inter-province land travel.