Partial restrictions to remain in capital as Philippines tackles coronavirus

Partial restrictions to remain in capital as Philippines tackles coronavirus

School disinfection amid new cases of coronavirus in Metro Manila
FILE PHOTO: A worker disinfects a classroom inside a high school following an order from a local government amid new cases of coronavirus in the country, in San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines. (REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday (Jun 15) partial restrictions would remain in place in the capital Manila for another two weeks because the threat from the new coronavirus was still present.

But Duterte reinstated strict lockdown rules in Cebu City, the country's fifth most populous city, following an increase in new infections there.

"The battle against COVID-19 is not yet over," Duterte said in an address late on Monday.

Restrictions were further eased in provinces and cities with low cases of the virus to help restore business activity in the Southeast Asian economy, which is expected to shrink for the first time in more than two decades this year.

The lockdown in the capital, Manila, which was one of the world's longest and strictest, was relaxed on Jun 1 to reduce the economic damage of the pandemic.

READ: Philippines capital comes back to life although COVID-19 threat lingers

The relaxed rules, which allowed the reopening of more industries, some public transportation and movement in and out of Manila, were set to expire on Jun 15.

Schools, universities and tourist destinations, however, will stay closed, while stay-at-home orders will remain for the elderly and children,

"We are gradually easing restrictions to make way for our economic viability as individuals and as a nation, but it does not mean we will forget our minimum health standards," Duterte said.

On Monday, restaurants in the capital were allowed to reopen dine-in services but on a limited scale, to allow more workers to go back to work.

The country's unemployment rate surged to a record 17.7 per cent in April as millions lost their jobs due to the lockdown.

While the capital accounts for half of the country's 26,420 confirmed coronavirus cases, authorities have recorded a spike in the number of infections in Cebu City after curbs were gradually eased there.

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Source: Reuters