File photo

MANILA – Areas with a low risk of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infection will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) and not "modified" GCQ starting May 16, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque explained that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) decided to use GCQ instead of MGCQ since the guidelines on the latter are still being finalized.

“I guess for simplicity purposes, (let’s stick with) general community quarantine muna ‘no (first),” Roque said in a virtual presser.

Roque said Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday announced that MGCQ will be implemented in low risk areas.

“Pero sa ngayon po, hinihintay pa rin natin iyong guidelines (but for now, we’re still waiting for the guidelines),” Roque said.

Under a GCQ, all, except the elderly and youth, are allowed outdoors; public transport with strict safe distancing will be permitted; and government agencies will observe alternative work arrangements such as a four-day work week.

Roque, meanwhile, said the IATF is still open to all petitions and requests of local officials regarding the type of community quarantine in their respective regions, provinces and cities.

“Basta naman po na-receive ang appeal nila (As long as we receive their appeal), this would be considered by the IATF,” he said.

By May 16, all areas in the country except Metro Manila, Laguna province, and Cebu City, will be placed under GCQ. The three areas mentioned will be under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Earlier, Roque said local officials may appeal their classification to the IATF Screening and Validation Committee not later than May 13.

Interzonal movements

Interzonal movements between areas classified as GCQ will be allowed subject to safety protocols by May 16, Roque explained.

He said those living in areas declared as MECQ but work in areas declared as GCQ will also be allowed to travel as long as they are employed in an industry allowed to operate.

“Ang kailangan lang po nila is employment ID at saka iyong ID na nagpapatunay kung saan sila nakatira (All they need is an employment ID and an ID showing where they live),” he said.

However, he reminded that non-essential travels will still require clearance from their respective local government units (LGUs).

While employers are also encouraged to provide their employees with transport vehicles, Roque said if this setup is not possible, the best decision would be to keep operations closed.

“Kung hindi naman po kaya talaga ng kumpanya na magbigay ng shuttle o kung walang sasakyan iyong kanilang mga empleyado, eh huwag na po munang magbukas dahil mas importante na ma-avoid po natin, maiwasan iyong second wave na tinatawag (If a company cannot provide a shuttle or if there are no vehicles for their employees, I suggest that they don’t resume operations because it is more important to avoid a second wave of infection),” he said.

“It’s a policy decision po, we want to restart the economy but not at the expense of having a second wave,” Roque said.

No extension for ITR deadline

The government will not extend the June 14 deadline for the filing and payment of annual income tax returns (ITRs) for individuals and corporations, Roque said.

“Kung hindi po tayo magpa-file ng ating tax returns, wala po tayong pera na papasok sa kaban ng ating gobyerno na gagamitin natin para sa Covid-19 (If we don’t file our tax returns, there won’t be any funds the government will use to fight Covid-19),” he said.

The tax paying public may still opt to file and pay their taxes before the extended deadline. (PNA)