Quarantine rules for provinces may be relaxed further after June 15 – Roque

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A man gets his temperature checked before boarding a bus (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) – Quarantine rules may be further relaxed or even lifted in most provinces next week as authorities see a sustained decline in the number of COVID-19 infections, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

A decision on the new classifications of provinces may be expected ahead of June 15.

Roque on Monday showed a graph tracking confirmed COVID-19 cases based on the date when a patient first showed symptoms of the disease, which is different from the current reporting scheme that depends on the day when test results turn out positive.

"Kapag ni-record natin sa ganitong pamamaraan, makikita niyo kung bakit tama lang naman na nag-GCQ na tayo sa Metro Manila at sa iba pang mga lugar dahil nakikita niyo na bumababa na po ang kaso ng COVID sa atin [When we record the data like this, you will see why right for Metro Manila and other locations to shift to GCQ because COVID cases are declining]," Roque said in his Malacañang briefing, noting that the case doubling time has also stretched longer.

"I would say that it is a safe conclusion na magkakaroon na naman po ng reclassification, except iba talaga ang data ng Metro Manila [there will be a reclassification, except the data for Metro Manila is different]," added Roque, who also serves as the spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

He said data for Metro Manila is different compared to the national trend, so closer examination is needed to determine if the capital region can shift to MGCQ by next week.

There are 21,895 COVID-19 cases in the country, of which 12,000 are in Metro Manila. Some 7,951 patients are considered active cases as of Sunday afternoon.

Most provinces in the country are under modified general community quarantine, which allows residents to move around except those aged below 21 or are 60 years old and older. All industries have also been allowed to reopen, but those catering to tourism and entertainment are limited to 50 percent capacity. The MGCQ is dubbed as a transition period for more liberal protocols.

The next step for them is the "new normal" phase, wherein all restrictions will be lifted. However, everyone must wear face masks, do frequent handwashing, and observe social distancing at all times.

Metro Manila, Pangasinan, provinces in Regions 2, 3, 4-A, and 7, Davao City, and Zamboanga City remain under GCQ, which allows most industries to reopen except for those classified as Category 4 or restricted sectors.

The IATF will again meet this week with President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss the fate of these provinces and cities. Roque added that Cabinet officials could be asked to travel to Davao City for the second straight week since that's where the President is currently staying.

Commercial flights remain limited as some local governments try to fend off the entry of visitors who may be coronavirus carriers, although airlines have started to operate regular flights as of last week.