Manila President Places Area Into MECQ Delaying Casino Reopening

The casino industry in Manila will have to wait at least two weeks, and perhaps a great deal longer, before it has any chance of reopening. Bending to increase Covid-19 infections and the public calls, President Rodrigo Duterte has moved the Metro Manila area from its General Community Quarantine (GCQ) to a Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), effectively shutting down most non-essential services once again.

The president’s office had threatened that if, by the end of August, the Philippines reached the 85,000 mark for total infections, quarantine restrictions would need to be tightened. The country then flew past that figure, reaching 100,000 infections by the time of Duterte ‘s decision on Sunday, and after passing.

After the country crossed the 85 thousand mark, it was not clear exactly what would be done about it, and a sudden announcement that more than 38,000 patients had been deemed healed, with no tests to show that they had actually recovered, helped to confuse the public.

This led to a surge of protests from the public on social media, led by nurses and doctors who have been treating Covid-19 patients since March. Those complaints were factored into the decision of the president, although he was evidently disappointed that he had not been informed personally.

Duterte said: “I have heard the call of different groups from the medical community for a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Mega Manila. I fully understand why you, health workers, would like to ask for such a timeout. They have been in the frontlines for months and they are exhausted.”

The move back to MECQ essentially means that all mass transport is now banned, and only a few industrial firms will remain in service. Although some companies such as restaurants were permitted to operate with social distancing placed in GCQ, this has now now been taken off the table, further undermining the operations of resorts that capitalised on this aspect of their market.

The MECQ is currently scheduled to last from August 4 through August 18. If all goes well, and new infections fall from the current rate of approximately 5,000 per day, Metro Manila will possibly switch back to a GCQ for a period of 2 weeks before another evaluation is made. This puts a possible reopening of casino facilities at least a month out, but in all probability the actual date is even further off when gamblers will start streaming back through the gate.