GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The city government has begun formulating its “restart plan” for the local economy, as it braces for the possible downgrading of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures here by next week.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera said Saturday he has directed the city’s inter-agency task force (IATF) on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to craft strategies and guidelines for the phased opening of economic activities after the end of the ongoing ECQ on April 30.
Rivera said the move could include the easing of movement restrictions, especially within the city’s central business district.
“We’re currently looking at that scenario since our suspected and probable Covid-19 cases were already going down these past weeks,” he said in a radio interview.
Rivera, however, said they would wait for guidance from the national IATF, which was still reviewing whether the city would retain the ECQ status or would be downgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ).
The city, which recorded a confirmed Covid-19 patient who has since recovered, was included in the orange category or moderate- to low-risk areas based on the national IATF’s recommendation that was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said he expects the decision to come out before April 30, after the assessment of the Department of Health (DOH) 12 (Soccsksargen).
Regardless of the outcome, Rivera said the city and the rest of the country would remain under community quarantine so people should still expect some restrictions.
In the city, he said the “odd-even scheme” for motor vehicles would continue but the clustering of barangays may be modified to complement the proposed opening of some business establishments.
Rivera said the phased opening of businesses for computer stores, auto supply outlets, clothing shops, and restaurants is also being considered.
Leisure and entertainment establishments, as well as resorts, would remain closed under the modified GCQ, he said, adding that they were studying the possibility of moving to 9 p.m. the start of the curfew hours, which is currently at 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Rivera said public transportation would “slowly” return to normal but the wearing of face masks, as well as the social and physical distancing measures, would be strictly implemented.
“This is applicable to all businesses that will be allowed to open. These are the new normal that we have to embrace,” he said.
Rivera, nonetheless, assured that the city government would continue to strengthen the control measures against Covid-19, as well as improve its contact-tracing and referral systems for possible patients.
The local government, he said, would continue to fast-track the ongoing establishment of a Covid-19 testing center and complete the isolation facility or patient care center at the local government-run Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital.
Rivera said the city’s borders would remain closed and they were considering deploying a joint task force composed of police and Army personnel to man the checkpoints.
“Rest assured that as we start to open up our economy, we will continue to level up with our efforts to bring to the minimum level, if not eliminate, the threat of Covid-19 in our city,” he added. (PNA)