Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co is pushing for conditional quarantine lifting to restart economic activities in select areas and help ease government’s burden during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Subject to further study and evaluation by health experts and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Rep. Co said he is proposing the lifting of quarantine in special cases. These include island-provinces with zero to one case of COVID-19 in the last 15 days or – in the case of municipalities – only those with zero cases.

“The objective of quarantine lifting is to allow people, albeit in limited numbers and in select localities, to return to their jobs. We’re fighting a protracted war and until no vaccine is invented, government’s limited resources can’t support and feed all those who were displaced. We need to save government funds for the longer battle,” Co stressed.

According to World Health Organization estimates, it would take at least two years before an effective vaccine against COVID-19 is discovered. During the Spanish Flu, it took four years. “But the economy can’t wait and our resources can’t last that long,” he stressed.

As more and more Filipinos get tested, the Bicolano solon said government would know the areas most affected by the virus. “With sufficient data, government can plan and identify which areas can reopen or remain in full lockdown. If we implement selective quarantine, initial estimates indicate that we can save as much as P30-billion,” he said.

While proposing selective quarantine lifting, Rep. Co stressed that each qualified province or municipality must adhere to the following strict terms and conditions:

– Residents, who are 60 years old and older, are required to stay home since they are prone to acquiring the disease. Until the threat of COVID-19 is over or a new vaccine is out, they must have their own room or space for quarantine;

– Provinces or municipalities with whose number of cases is less than 75% of the estimated outbreak threshold (as determined by UP COVID 19 Response Team) may not implement ECQ at all. But their boundaries/borders shall remain close/on full lockdown. This is to protect the safe territory and its people from possible carriers of the disease from other provinces/municipalities.

– Workers with face masks can report back to work while wearing observing a three-meter physical distance from each other. Regular hand washing is required;

– People can move around but must observe social distancing as the new norm; and

– Once a COVID-19 case is detected and confirmed, the entire province or municipality will automatically be placed on 30-day lockdown.

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