By Reuben Pio Martinez
Biñan City Mayor Arman Dimaguila placed the entire city under total lockdown on Monday midnight, as a preemptive measure to stop the possibility of the virus spreading throughout the city. As of writing today, March 23, 2020, there has now been one confirmed case in Barangay San Francisco, Biñan, despite the measures taken.
In a local radio interview yesterday, Dimaguila explained that this was done after three persons under investigation (PUIs) residing in the neighboring city of Sta. Rosa, Laguna tested positive for the COVID-19 strain. The second case, confirmed to be in Barangay Macabling, is very near to the Mamplasan area in Biñan.
Under this implementation, residents are not allowed to leave the city, provided specific guidelines would be met. This also means that this would effectively prevent any person residing outside Biñan from entering the city until further notice.
Though Dimaguila stated that he was aware of the conditions for a total lockdown to take place, namely that two or more people in different barangays in the city should test positive, he emphasized that this is strictly a means to ensure that there would be no cases in Biñan. He explained that the 7-day waiting period for the test results is a subject for concern.
12 checkpoints that would require citizens to undergo a check-up process, including thermal scanning, have been placed within the city boundaries. Everyone going outside their homes are advised to wear masks to avoid possible contamination.
Dimaguila elaborated further that working citizens would have to bear with the following restrictions for the time being. Though skeletal workforces for industries such as medicine, food, power, energy, telecommunications, banking, garbage collection, and funeral services would be allowed, they must only compose of Biñan citizens for businesses within the city. On the other hand, for those either working outside Biñan or for people working in Biñan but are not residents, they must find their own means of temporary residence in order to work. This also goes for front liners such as medical workers who are working beyond city limits. All local government units (LGUs) are tasked to monitor all workforces to ensure that they are all observing social distancing.
Dialysis patients who receive their treatments in hospitals near the border but are not in Biñan and for other medical emergencies are noted as among the exceptions to this. Laborers stationed in facilities such as the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) would also be allowed to return, so as they all undergo the check-up procedures and would have the necessary documents such as an ID. Banking and drugstore employees are also expected to follow said procedures, provided that their respective work stations still have no confirmed cases. Transport vehicles for factories are also allowed to come and go in delivering products to their respective destinations.
On the matter of the quarantine passes, Dimaguila reiterated that only one pass would be allowed per family. The original time given was 6 am. to 10 am., and 2 pm. to 6 pm. Starting tomorrow, March 24, 2020, citizens would only be allowed to shop for necessities at the “window hours” of 6 am. to 2 pm.
All stores, including wet markets, would have to abide by the allotted time table, though it was not mentioned how malls would adjust to this. A siren would be activated 30 minutes prior to 2 pm. to signal customers and sellers to have everything ready before going home. Delivery persons who transport gallons of mineral water or gas tanks for cooking are allowed to go along their businesses as long as they stay within the city limits and must have their respective passes. Hospitals would also be open beyond the given time.
The plastic ban would also be suspended until April 14, 2020, which is to allow customers from using plastic bags to carry their purchased items. Only people who privately own tricycles and jeepneys are allowed to use them. However, it was also mentioned that the city hall’s e-tricycles would be available for use only during the allotted who have trouble in carrying goods.
Though Dimaguila stated that there will be some challenges for the residents, he assured that this will all be over soon. “Sa lahat ng panahon, ngayon po tayo kailangan magpakita ng pagkakaisa. Makiisa. Huwag muna pong magreklamo.” (Of all days, now is the time for use to work together. Be one with us. Don’t complain too much.) [P]