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MANILA, May 11 (Mabuhay) — Conditions in Metro Manila and 4 nearby provinces are “suitable” for relaxing of quarantine restrictions due to falling COVID-19 case numbers and lower health-care utilization rate, independent research group OCTA said Tuesday.

Should government ease curbs, it should be gradual and calibrated to preserve the gains it made, OCTA Research fellow Guido David said.

“Of course, the virus is still there in NCR but what we’re saying is the trend has improved significantly. Well, we’re not recommending easing of restrictions per se. What we’re saying is that we support the decision of the national government… whether to extend MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) or to ease restrictions to GCQ (general community quarantine),” he said.

“What we’re saying is that the conditions right now are suitable or acceptable for a possible easing of restrictions. But if we do ease restrictions, our recommendation is maybe to do it gradually and calibrated.”

NCR Plus is under modified enhanced community quarantine, the second strictest lockdown, until May 14.

David said the government could allow some establishments to increase their capacity should it loosen restrictions.

“What we don’t want to do is to open up everything instantly because we might see what we saw in the resort in Caloocan become common. We don’t want that to happen,” he said.

“So, we want people to still be following health restrictions [and] health guidelines because these are very important. If we open up everything, the possible message is that everything’s okay and people might start become complacent again.”

Malacañang had said a shift to GCQ was “possible” for Greater Manila area by the middle of May.

Since the pandemic began, the Philippines has tallied over 1.1 million coronavirus infections. So far, more than 18,500 have died from the respiratory illness. (MNS)