AMID EASED RESTRICTIONS

Published February 13, 2021 5:39pm

As the government further reopened establishments in areas under a general community quarantine (GCQ), the OCTA Research group on Saturday warned that the COVID-19 situation in the country hung in a delicate balance.

“Puwedeng tumaas o bumaba depending on how we implement the minimum health standards, especially the venue facility managers, kailangan mas strict sila sa pag=promote ng minimum health standards,” OCTA Research’s Dr. Butch Ong said during the state-run PTV’s Laging Handa briefing.

OCTA Research made the remark after the government’s inter-agency task force in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic allowed an increase in the size of religious gatherings in areas under a GCQ from the present 30% of a venue’s capacity to 50%.

The government also allowed traditional cinemas in GCQ areas to be reopened starting February 15, subject to guidelines that will be issued by the Department of Health and respective local government units (LGUs).

Also to be allowed to reopen beginning Feb. 15 are driving schools; video and interactive game arcades; libraries, archives, museums, and cultural centers; meetings, incentives conferences, and exhibitions; limited social events; accredited establishments of the Department of Tourism; and tourist attractions such as parks, theme parks, natural sites, and historical landmarks, again subject to guidelines to be issued.

Metro Manila mayors, meanwhile, expressed concern and were planning to appeal to the government to reconsider its directive to allow the reopening of traditional cinemas in areas under a GCQ.

For OCTA Research, Metro Manila is still considered as the epicenter of COVID-19 crisis in the country.

“[S]o kailangan natin na… we [need to] make policies. We must base it on data and evidence and our previous experience with COVID last year. Kailangan lang natin paigtingin ang minimum health standards. At oo, i-improve natin ang testing capcity at hospital capacity sa Pilipinas,” Ong said.

With the emergence of new COVID-19 virus variants, he said that the government and the general public as well need to “balance of more health care workers and the entry of new variants which are more transmissible, kailangan nating mas maging vigilant.”

“Maaari nating i-monitor every so often ang trends ng LGUs,” Ong said.

“It has to be balanced with our own discipline na sinasabi ko nga palagi ang pinakakalaban lagi ng COVID-19 ang disiplinado,” he added. — DVM, GMA News