No vaccine rollout, no MGCQ – Duterte

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FOR as long as there is no vaccine roll-out to protect the Filipinos from catching the virus, easing community quarantine classification would not take place, says President Rodrigo Duterte

In a full Cabinet meeting, Duterte rejected recommendations to place the entire country under the least stringent quarantine classification, at least until the rollout of vaccines.

“The Chief Executive recognizes the importance of re-opening the economy and its impact on people’s livelihoods. However, the President gives higher premium to public health and safety,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Interestingly, Duterte’s decision junking the bid of his economic managers and Metro Manila mayors to ease restrictions to allow the economy to pick up after months of business standstill is one of the few instances he went against the wish of his trusted lieutenants – and the first time that he supported the position of the Octa Research Group.

Under the dumped proposal, face-to-face classes for higher education institutions would be allowed, while private and public offices may resume operations at full capacity, with special remote arrangements for persons aged 60 and above, pregnant women, and people with comorbidities.

All types of establishments are allowed but those related to entertainment and leisure, like cinemas and concerts, are limited to half capacity.

Octa earlier warned easing of the community quarantine classifications starting March 1 may not be good even as the research group claimed that new cases may breach 2,400 new cases daily again. The group described such a proposal as “risky” and “contrary to sensible epidemic management.”

Earlier in the day, Malacañang announced Duterte’s disapproval of physical classes for elementary and high school students until the government’s vaccination rollout is underway. The Malacañang chief executive likewise threw out attempts to ease age-based restrictions.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, at the urging of the National Economic and Development Authority, had recommended loosening the quarantine restrictions even in pandemic epicenter Metro Manila because it accounts for 40% of the country’s economy.

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