Malacañang on Sunday urged the public not to get complacent about the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) threat after quarantine restrictions were eased in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reminded shoppers to observe quarantine protocols following reports that some of them failed to observe safe physical distancing when malls reopened on Saturday, first day of less strict modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
“We advise the public not to be complacent and to follow health protocols set by authorities after we received reports of people who trooped to the malls with complete disregard of social/physical distancing measures on the first day of our shift from enhanced community quarantine to modified enhanced community quarantine and general community quarantine (GCQ) in Luzon,” Roque said in a statement.
Roque emphasized that restrictions were eased not because it is now safer to leave their homes, but because the economy was already suffering from the impact of the two months of strict quarantine.
“We must understand that we have started to slowly ease restrictions in order to revitalize the economy, and not because we are safe,” he said.
He said Filipinos should learn from the experience of other countries like South Korea, which contained the spread of the virus but later experienced a spike in Covid-19 cases when citizens became relaxed.
Roque sought for cooperation from the public as the whole country remains under community quarantine.
“We must not put to waste our collective efforts and sacrifices. Stay at home, go out to do essential work or when authorized as we ramp up testing,” Roque said.
He said the public must continue to be vigilant of the risks of Covid-19 and observe proper hygiene, wear face mask or face shield, and observe physical distancing.
In a separate statement, Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar warned that failure of mall security managers to implement safe physical distancing will result in the closure of their establishments.
“As per instruction of the SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año), we will not only facilitate the closure of these malls but will also initiate the filing of appropriate charges against the management,” Eleazar said.
He said all police commanders have been directed to regularly monitor the movement of people inside the malls in their respective areas of responsibility to ensure that the basic rules on safe physical distancing and wearing of face masks are observed.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier admitted that the country could not afford a second or third wave of Covid-19 infection, reiterating the importance of physical distancing as the “new normal” until a vaccine is developed.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Zambales are currently under MECQ until May 31.
The cities of Cebu and Mandaue in Cebu province remain under ECQ. Meanwhile, areas not under ECQ or MECQ were placed under GCQ.
There are currently 12,513 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country, 824 deaths and 2,635 recoveries.