President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet has recommended shortening the curfew hours to four hours from the current 10 pm to 5 am to midnight to 4 am as the country gradually opens the economy, Malacañang said Wednesday.
“The Cabinet has decided to recommend local government units to shorten their curfew hours,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
Also, recently the Cabinet approved the recommendation that will gradually expand the age limitation of persons allowed to go out and they also allowed the implementation of one-seat-apart policy in public transport.
“The decision of the Cabinet is to recommend to all local government units to shorten the curfew,” he said.
However, Roque said the Local government units would have to pass an ordinance.
Most areas implement a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, he said.
The Palace official said a shorter and later curfew would allow workers to travel at ease.
He said malls and other establishments that provide essential goods and services should also extend their operating hours to complement the staggered shifts.
“Malls, stores, and groceries should be allowed to operate for a longer period so our workers can get what they need,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health has recommended the implementation of localized lockdowns in areas where increased attack rate of COVID-19 has been observed, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
The DOH favored this instead of tighter quarantine protocols.
Citing a report from the DOH’s sub-technical working group on data analytics, Duque was responding to the findings of the OCTA research team which called on the government to consider tightening of quarantine protocols in Bauan in Batangas, Calbayog in Western Samar, and General Trias in Cavite since COVID-19 attack rates have increased there in the past week.
From October 4 to 11, the daily attack rate per 1,000 people in Bauan rose from 6.2 percent to 11.9 percent, in Calbayog from 5.1 percent to 8 percent, and in General Trias from 4.9 percent to 7.6 percent.
“The risk classification currently puts a premium on the safe opening of business establishments for socio-economic recovery. Hospital capacity or utilization rate is used as the main signal for escalation of community quarantine levels. Based on our October 12 data, these provinces still have enough hospital capacity to care for its patients, therefore escalation of their quarantine levels is not warranted,” Duque said in a statement sent to GMA News Online.
“Instead, the respective LGUs of these provinces are recommended to implement localized lockdowns, immediate contact tracing and isolation of all contacts, and strict compliance to minimum health standards in areas with increasing case incidence,” Duque added.
Duque also assured the public that DOH would coordinate with the National Task Force and its regional counterparts to assist the LGUs on this matter.
The same OCTA findings revealed that the COVID-19 hotspots for the last two weeks include: Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, Batangas, Laguna, Bulacan, Negros Occidental, and Iloilo.
As of Tuesday, the Philippines has recorded 344,713 COVID-19 cases so far. Of this number, 293,383 recovered while 6,372 died.
The number of active cases is at 44,958.
In a separate interview, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said the reproduction rate of COVID-19 in the country remained under 1, meaning a person infected with COVID-19 infected less than one person.
Vergeire, however, said that the National Capital Region—the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country—remained a challenge since its reproduction rate ranges from 0.88 to 0.9.
“Still, it is less than 1 which is the same as our national figure,” Vergeire said.