BY CARLA P. GOMEZ
There will be no total lockdown in Negros Occidental.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, in Executive Order No 20-42 Series of 2020 issued yesterday, declared a “timeout weekend” over Talisay, Silay and Bago cities and Murcia town on Sunday and Monday for mass COVID-19 testing, but stressed that there will be no total lockdown.
Lascon said only targeted lockdowns limited to specific areas will be imposed.
He also said sweeper flights will continue during the next four days but sea travel has been cancelled until Monday.
In his EO No. 20-42, Lacson, said it is crucial that a pro-active move in containing the virus by devising a strengthened protocol on tracing, testing, isolating and treating Negrenses is undertaken.
He said the duration for timeout weekend in Silay, Talisay and Bago cities and Murcia town, where 5,000 COVID-19 tests are targeted, will be from 12:01 a.m. Sunday to 11:59 p.m. Monday.
Lockdowns will be limited to specific areas such as barangays and puroks, at the discretion of the local governments, he said.
Local government units can come up with their own executive orders if there are specific issues that they would like to manage, he said.
All national roads will remain open for the unhampered passage of travel of essential goods and Authorized Persons Outside of Residence, he said.
The delivery of cargo within Negros Occidental will not be delayed or hampered during the timeout weekend, Lacson said.
Previously issued provincial passes will be valid, he said.
Lacson said other LGUs not covered by the EO will be considered for inclusion in future timeout weekends.
He said they did not get approval from the National Inter-Agency Task Force for a total lockdown but granular lockdowns are allowed under Modified General Community Quarantine.
Lacson said they have been assured of PhilHealth reimbursement for the COVID-19 tests to be conducted.
He said the mass testing is being conducted to aggressively curb the spread of local transmissions.
Lacson expects about 4 to 5 percent of their targets to test positive. Hitting 60 percent of their 5,000 target will be a good number, he said.
Talisay Mayor Neil Lizares said that with the significant increase of COVID-19 positive cases in Negros Occidental, Talisay City is joining the Timeout Weekend for mass testing Sunday and Monday.
“We strongly encourage the public to refrain from going out of their homes and to practice strict home quarantine during this period,” he said.
“During these difficult times, it is only when we strictly follow our health protocols and laws that we can put an end to this pandemic,” Lizares added.
“Let us all do our part in not making the sacrifices of our brave frontliners in vain,” he said.
Mayor Nicholas Yulo has suspended work in the Bago City government offices today, except for COVID-19 frontliners.*