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Metro Manila Spared from Fresh Lockdown, Stays in GCQ 'Purgatory'

Face shields recommended in high-risk areas.
by Joel Guinto
Jul 31, 2020
Photo/s: Jerome Ascano
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Metro Manila and some provinces will stay under GCQ, the second lowest quarantine classification, but with new measures, including localized lockdowns and "massive" tracing and testing, officials said Friday. President Rodrigo Duterte likened it to staying in "purgatory."

Duterte kept the capital region under general community quarantine despite rising infections that the government had attributed to expanded testing and the easing of restrictions last June. "Para ma-secure din yung purgatory nyo... Konting ingat lang, do not mix together (This is to secure your stay in purgatory... Be careful, do not mix together.)"

Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Minglanilla, Consolacion and Zamboanga City will also be under GCQ while the rest of the Philippines will be under the lowest quarantine, MGCQ or modified general community quarantine, Duterte said. It will mark the first time that Cebu City will be under GCQ after being under strict lockdown since March.

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There will be conditions  for an area to stay under GCQ, Presidential Spokesperon Harry Roque said. There will be "strict, localized lockdowns" in  areas where infections are at least 80 percent.  Hand-washing, social distancing, face masks and face shields will be recommended.

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There will be a "massive targeted testing, intesified quarantine and tracing of close contacts," Roque said. In case confirmed cases don't have a bathroom to their own where they live, they will be brought to government isolation centers, he said.

Beds for COVID-19 cases will also be increased, to 50 percent of capacity for government hospitals and 30 perent for private hospitals. The allocation waspreviously at 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

The GCQ and MGCQ classifications are important because they determine which businesses can operate and at what capacity. Ahead of Friday's address by the President, the trade department said the following businesses can restart at 30 percent capacity in GCQ areas: gymsfitness centersinternet shopstutorial and review centers, and grooming services.

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In MGCQ areas, the following can resume, also at 30 percent capacity: tattoo and body piercing, live events, entertainment industries, libraries, archives, museums and cultural centers, tourist destinations, and schools for language, driving, dance, acting and voice.

The Philippines logged the biggest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day on Thursday. The 3,954 confirmed infections brought the total to 89,374. Of the 3,954, 1,320 were "fresh" or newly confirmed, while 2,634 were reported late. There were 38,075 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 65,064. Deaths rose to 1,983, according to DOH data.

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