02439: What Happens After The 15 May ECQ Extension?

Trailbreaker - Force Field

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 45

On Friday, the government confirmed that the Extended Community Quarantine would remain in effect in Metro Manila and other high-risk areas until 15 May. At the same time, areas previously under ECQ would be under "General Community Quarantine" starting 1 May and initial guidelines related to this were released on the same day. The list of countries under ECQ versus GCQ still has the potential to change between now and 1 May because we do like to settle things at the last minute, but it's clear that Metro Manila will remain under quarantine for a while. 

The President released another statement to the media last night in line with the whole weekly reporting requirement of his emergency powers bill, although he had foregone the media statement last week. The only notable thing I gleaned from that speech was his call for COVID-19 testing facilities to shift to 24-hour operations somehow in order to increase overall testing capacity. I haven't read a clear statement on how the Department Health plans to respond to the President's directive, but it's still early in the week. 

The messages from Friday and last night have somehow mixed together and now the conclusion is (1) Metro Manila is assumed to be under GCQ after 15 May (the end of the current ECQ extension) and (2) he confirmed the details of the GCQ during his speech last night. I don't know why social media people actually believe our President would have gone over all the details of the GCQ conditions in a speech last night when he struggles to stick to prepared statements from his communications team. But hey, I guess we like to jump on any glimmer of home.

If we stick to the facts, there has been no confirmation about whether or not Metro Manila and other high-risk areas will remain under ECQ beyond 15 May. The guidelines for GCQ were released since other parts of Luzon currently under ECQ will be allowed to shift to GCQ. I assume that the government will observe closely whether GCQ cities/provinces will be able to retain their current low infection numbers or if relaxing the quarantine will trigger new waves of infections in currently lower-risk areas. This becomes the testing ground for how soon high-risk ECQ areas might be able to shift to GCQ safely.

But whether it's ECQ or GCQ, quarantine measures remain in effect over a significant portion of the country, so shifting to GCQ will not yet mean a return to "normal" life. Leisure activities and related establishments remain prohibited/closed along with mass gatherings. Social distancing measures will still be in effect and people will still need to wear masks outside their homes. But at least some sectors will be able to return to work and just go outside, period. 

We still have a long way to go before we even figure out what our post-COVID-19 "new normal" is going to be like.