By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos | PNA
MANILA: There can only be a “new normal” when areas in the country are no longer placed under community quarantine, according to the revised guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“Areas, where no community quarantine is in place, can be considered as being under the new normal,” the omnibus guidelines on the community quarantine in the country read.
The IATF-EID earlier defined the general community quarantine (GCQ), a relaxed community quarantine imposed by the national government, as the so-called “new normal.”
Resolution 37 inked by IATF-EID on May 15 placed Cebu and Mandaue cities under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most stringent community quarantine, from May 16 to 31.
Modified ECQ (MECQ) is imposed in Metro Manila, Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva, Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, and Angeles City until May 31.
All areas in the country where ECQ or MECQ are not imposed will be under GCQ.
Before an area can be deemed as being under the new normal, the community quarantine implemented there has to transition first into modified GCQ (MGCQ).
MGCQ is the most relaxed community quarantine implemented by the government because all individuals residing in areas under MGCQ can go outside their homes.
Individuals and group outdoor exercises, including non-contact sports like golf, tennis, table tennis, and swimming, will also be allowed, provided that minimum public health standards are strictly enforced.
Public gatherings in areas under MGCQ will also be allowed, as long as the venue or seating capacity in an event is limited to 50 percent.
This means movie screenings, concerts, sporting events, entertainment activities, community assemblies, religious gatherings, and non-essential work gatherings are now allowed in areas where MGCQ is implemented.
Dine-in service in food retail establishments like supermarkets, grocery stores, and food preparation stalls will also be allowed provided that the seating capacity may not exceed 50 percent.
Public, private transportation
Road, rail, maritime, and aviation sectors of public transportation in areas under MGCQ are also allowed to operate.
Passengers must strict one-meter distance and appropriate engineering controls must be in place.
The IATF-EID also authorized the use of private company shuttles, personal vehicles, bikes, and non-motorized vehicles in areas under MGCQ.
Residential or face-to-face classes may also be done in higher education institutions (HEIs), provided that there is strict compliance with minimum health standards, consultation with local government units, and compliance with guidelines set by Commission on Higher Education.
However, mass gatherings in HEIs are still prohibited.
Work in all public and private offices will also be allowed to resume physical work in “full capacity,” with alternative arrangements for senior citizens, individuals with health risks, and pregnant women.
Work in government offices may be at full operational capacity or under alternative work arrangements as agencies may deem appropriate, following the rules and regulations set by the Civil Service Commission.
Accredited diplomatic missions and international organizations may resume full operations.
All public and private construction projects will also be allowed, but with strict compliance with the Department of Public Works and Highways’ construction safety guidelines for the implementation of infrastructure projects during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. (PNA/RSP)