The longest Christmas season in the world will start on Sept. 1 in the Philippines and on its eve, President Rodrigo Duterte will decide on what form of COVID-19 quarantines will be in place, a decision that will affect how Filipinos will prepare for the holidays.
Metro Manila was under a strict GCQ for 13 days, while the rest of the country was under either GCQ or Modified GCQ. With restrictions in place for nearly six months, an adviser to the country's pandemic response task force said there were signs the infection curve would flatten soon.
Duterte will address the nation late Monday. The President speaks to the nation live late Monday evenings or if the pandemic task force meeting stretches to midnight, the speech is aired early the next day, like what happened last week.
The strict GCQ in Metro Manila introduced new restrictions. Some of which were not seen since the lockdown, including a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and quarantine passes when required by mayors.
The infection curve could flatten by September. There are at least two indicators, according to Guido David, a fellow of UP-Octa : The 2,378 cases reported on Aug. 23 was the lowest in a single day so far this month. The reproduction rate of the virus is also down to 1.1 from 1.5. Experts see 1 as the threshold for this indicator, scores below it mean infections are petering out, scores above it indicate an expansion. During the Strict GCQ period, the daily confirmed cases topped 5,000 only once, on Aug. 26.
Fresh funding is being allocated to fight COVID-19. Bayanihan to Recover as One, which earmarks P140 billion and a standby fund of P25 billion to respond to the pandemic is awaiting the President's signature. Duterte also pitched next year's P4.5-trillion budget to Congress as a chance to bring the economy "back on the road."
More needs to be done, according to the opposition. The government must lay out a comprehensive, quick and clear plan to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, which is the only way to revive businesses, Vice President Leni Robredo said. It's not a choice between health and the economy, she said.