GCQ in Metro
Doomsayers are expecting pandemonium as Metro Manila, epicenter of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and center of economic activity in the country, eases into general community quarantine amid the continuing COVID-19 contagion.
After 11 weeks of enhanced community quarantine, mass transportation services will resume today, but with a much reduced capacity. These include the light railway and regular train services, taxis and transport network vehicle service units, shuttles and point-to-point buses, with the resumption of tricycle operations up to the local government executives. A new bus scheme is being launched along EDSA, with passenger boarding and unloading no longer from the sidewalk but from the inner lane.
Amid the expected confusion, and with more businesses allowed to reopen, the nation is shifting to the new normal. Government offices will resume, although many employees will still be working from home, and enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year also starts today. This means millions of people back in the streets. People could be lulled into believing that the situation is returning to pre-pandemic normal.
In fact this is a critical period during which people should leave no room for carelessness and complacency. The highly infectious killer coronavirus is still very much around – as is evident in the continuing increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases as well as deaths.
Everyone must remember that the country – like the rest of the world – is shifting into the new normal, with health safety protocols here to stay. These include observing physical distancing and avoiding large gatherings, wearing face masks in public, regular handwashing and disinfection, thermal checks and foot baths where appropriate.
Philippine National Police officials are warning that people who violate quarantine protocols would still be arrested. The PNP should stop its commander for Metro Manila, Debold Sinas, from talking about acts that breach quarantine protocols and the corresponding sanctions, considering that he himself is under investigation for violating the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. Credibility is needed for getting full public cooperation, which is indispensable as we all move toward the new normal. If the nation can’t adopt to this new environment, we could face a fresh wave of infections.