Malacañang warned NCR would be put under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) again if residents would continue to violate health and safety protocols imposed against the spread of COVID-19.
“We expect everybody’s full cooperation. If there’s no full cooperation, we will go back to [enhanced community quarantine] because the state cannot be remiss in its obligation to protect the health of its citizens,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
“If we keep this up, all of us will receive not financial aid but COVID-19,” he added.
Roque was referring to shoppers who poured in and ignored physical distancing at different shopping malls on Saturday.
Roque warned that the second wave of coronavirus infections could hit the Philippines like what happened to other countries that eased lockdown but failed to control people’s movement.
Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire seconded the government’s call.
“We understand that the easing of [restrictions] helped reduce the mental stress brought about by the two-month lockdown. We are now hopeful that we could already go back to work, which will unburden us of the financial stress,” Vergeire said.
“But we remind everyone, the fight against COVID-19 is not yet over. This is only the start of the new chapter of our fight,” she said.
NCR will go back to ECQ if people do not cooperate
Vergeire stressed out that the reopening of malls was to restart the economy and not for people to wander around.
“This was done for the economy,” she said. “We should bear in mind that we have a huge responsibility to prevent community transmission [of the virus]. If more people go out and do not observe physical distancing and other preventive measures, there is a bigger possibility for the virus to spread.”
Roque warned shopping mall operators and local officials to enforce physical distancing strictly among shoppers, or the government would stop their operations again.
“To malls which do not observe social distancing and crowd control, it’s quite easy—we will just shut you down again,” he said.
Metro Manila, as of Monday, has 8,425 cases, 608 fatalities, and 1,938 recoveries.
As of May 18, the Philippines has recorded 12, 718 confirmed cases, 831 deaths, and 2, 729 recoveries.