Palace warns of stringent curbs if virus cases rise
May 20 2020 12:00 AM
Workers wearing protective masks stand by to hitch a ride as some industries resumed operations with limited public transportation available, amid the Covid-19 outbreak, in Quezon City.

By Jan Arcilla/Manila Times

Metro Manila and other areas could again be placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases rise and people flout health protocols, Malacanang warned.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr issued the warning as traffic jams were again reported in some areas two days after the metropolis transitioned to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
Roque pointed out that the country has limited space for patients in quarantine facilities.
“If we go out in droves and continue to ignore social distancing we will go back under ECQ. There is no guarantee that we will remain under MECQ. If cases rise and we cannot provide care to patients, all of us will return to ‘prison’, it will be ECQ once again,” he said.
On Saturday, some areas including Metro Manila transitioned from ECQ to MECQ.
As vehicles again filled up roads, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) tightened checks for private cars at Metro Manila’s entry points. The MMDA said the checking of passes and identification cards would be stricter to ensure that only those allowed to go out of their homes would be on the road, MMDA spokesman Celine Pialago said.
“The number of vehicles has surged since Saturday; we need to check passengers one by one,” Pialago said in a briefing.
“We agreed that private vehicles would be screened in entry points to Metro Manila,” she added.
Several sectors were allowed to operate on a limited capacity starting Saturday in areas under MECQ, including Metro Manila. But photos and videos showed mall-goers violating physical distancing rules and motorists stuck in traffic went viral on social media, drawing widespread criticism and alarm. Pialago said new checkpoints were placed along Edsa and more traffic personnel were deployed.
Workers caught travelling without a valid ID were told to go back or to alight from shuttle buses, she said.
Meanwhile, MMDA General Manager Jose Arturo “Jojo” Garcia said malls should remain closed if management fails to implement physical distancing and safety measures.

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