MODIFIED QUARANTINE. The enhanced community quarantine is an effective measure against a pandemic like the coronavirus disease 2019, says Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. of Iloilo. However, it should be observed not longer than is necessary or the economy will suffer, he stresses. The provincial government will thus tweak quarantine measures to sustain the economy, says Defensor. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN ILOILO – Gov.Arthur Defensor Jr. plans to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)being observed in the province but with modifications. Business establishmentsmay be allowed to reopen except for those where social distancing would bedifficult to observe, he said. Defensor’sIloilo City counterpart Mayor Jerry Treñas hopes to start gradually easing ECQmeasures by May 1, too. The governor alsosaid public transport may be allowed to re-operate. He, however, acknowledgedthe difficulty of ensuring that social distancing would be observed in thissector. Healthcareworkers, those who have to do errands for essentials (food, health, utilities),those engaged in the delivery of goods, and those working in establishmentsthat would be allowed to resume operations, said Defensor. As of yesterday,April 23, Iloilo province has 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with four deaths. For thismodified quarantine measures, a modified ECQ pass will also be issued, added thegovernor. The ECQ startedon March 20. It was originally intended to last until April 14 but this wasextended up to April 30. Beginning May1, according to Defensor, business establishments would be allowed to resumeoperations except for those where social distancing would be difficult to carryout. “Iloilo Cityshould consider prepping for a phased reopening, and scaling back of the localgovernment unit’s (LGU) support for the economy. The phased reopening is astrategy that will protect the people from the (corona)virus while allowinglife to progressively return to normal, albeit a ‘new normal’,” according to professorsMaria Elisa Baliao, Rhodella Ibabao, Hanny John Mediodia, Cristabel Parcon,Juhn Cris Espia, and Vicente Balinas. Travelrestrictions, however, would remain, said Defensor, and provincial border checkpointswould continue. But an ECQshould not be observed longer than is necessary or the economy will suffer, saidDefensor. Treñas said therewould still be restrictions on public transport, school classes and religiousgatherings, among others while quarantine rules and regulations are lifted instages or phases. Treñasthus welcomed the inputs of professors from the University of the PhilippinesVisayas (UPV). “Ang akon langginapangayo kooperasyon because we haveto open already. Naluoy ako sa mgapumoluyo ta nga waay trabaho,” said Treñas./PN Defensor saidyesterday he was finalizing an executive order on a two-week modified ECQ, fromMay 1 to 15. Who would beallowed to travel? “Thissituation is new to us all. We have no experience in this regard so we need allthe help we can get from the experts,” he said. Defensor wouldbe consulting with mayors before finalizing his executive order on a modifiedECQ. So there would likely be more details to include in this tweakedquarantine, he said. Under thecurrent ECQ, home quarantine is strictly being enforced. Public transport issuspended. Business establishments are closed except those dealing withessentials (food, health and utilities) such as public markets, grocery stores,pharmacies, banks, gas stations, hospitals, and food deliveries. “The enhancedcommunity quarantine is the most effective quarantine measure against somethinglike this (coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic),” said Defensor. Defensor alsoclarified the upcoming executive order is not an “exit plan” from the ECQ but agradual transition in quarantine measures.