President Rodriqo Duterte announced May 31 that NCR Plus (Metro Manila, Laguna, Bulacan, Cavite and Rizal) will still be under GCQ with restrictions from June 1 to 30. The president did not explain the difference between “GCQ with heightened restrictions," which was the classification from May 15 to 31, and "GCQ with restrictions.”
Under GCQ are Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Abra, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Batangas, Quezon, Iligan City, Davao City, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato City.
In the pastweeks, malls were allowed to open, and restaurants to accept dine-in guests with social distancing and other health protocols observed. Last week, 13 hotels in Metro Manila classified and authorized by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as staycation hotels were allowed to accept guests at 100% capacity and to waive COVID-19 testing of guests.
Since March, the government has put Metro Manila under stricter quarantine categories and curfews every two weeks. It rolled back ECQ and MECQ on May 1 and May 15, respectively, and put a new classification for NCR Plus—GCQ with heightened restrictions.
At a press briefing on May 26, OCTA Research fellow Guido David said NCR Plus is not ready for MCGQ despite the downward trend of COVID infections in Metro Manila.
“While we believe that we can relax restrictions, we think we should try to retain the GCQ at this time because the cases are still significant,” he said.
He added that people might be very complacent “because they feel that the situation has improved significantly, that there are no more cases when in fact there are still cases.”
As of May 31, the Philippines has 1.2 million COVID cases and 20,966 deaths.
According to Our World in Data, as of May 25, the country has vaccinated 1.03 million with two doses and 2.44 million with one. Starting June 1, people in A4 category be vaccinated, including government, private-sector workers, and informal sector who are required to work outside their residences.
Duterte reiterated that vaccines are free and government is committed to “equitable distribution." He said he leaves it to the PNP to arrest people selling vaccines illegally.
The Philippine economy shrank by 4.2% in the first quarter of 2021, and recovery is now expected be slower than first predicted.
Banner photo by Kriz-John Rosales