Who would’ve ever thought that in this life we would all get to see and experience an event as massive and as disruptive as the Covid-19 pandemic? Who would’ve thought that Cebu would be placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine? Yes, we always see these in movies, but has it ever crossed your mind that something like this would ever happen to us?
In just a couple of weeks, the global pandemic has put whole nations at a standstill and with it came devastating effects on livelihood, commerce, economies, governments, relationships, and just about all aspects of modern living.
Here are some photographs I was able to snap around Cebu during this whole battle with the 2019 Coronavirus.
Cebu under Enhanced Community Quarantine
On March 28, 2019, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella placed Cebu City under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) for one month. Other cities in Cebu also did the same. With the ECQ in place, curfews were implemented. Minors and senior citizens were also no longer allowed to leave their homes.
Cebu City prepared a separate lot at the North Reclamation Area as a site to gather patients should an outbreak affect a huge part of the population.
During the lockdown, gas prices reached their all-time low in years following the Oil Price War between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Days before the lockdown, malls were already asked to encourage visitors to wear face masks, use a hand sanitizer upon entry, undergo a quick temperature check, and practice social distancing.
A few days into the lockdown, some of Cebu City’s most visited tourist spots were already devoid of people. Here is a photo of the famous Plaza Independencia with not a single soul in sight during the ECQ.
The popular heritage site Fort San Pedro was also temporarily closed off to the public indefinitely.
An Ever-Changing Landscape
Following the announcement of the implementation of the ECQ, ‘panic buying’ was reported in various supermarkets all over the province.
People were also desperate to score rubbing alcohol, bleach, and other disinfectants. As a response to news of ‘hoarding,’ several supermarkets limited the sale of the items to only 5 per person.
High-risk establishments like clinics and pharmacies also had to take precautionary measures to protect their workers. In most pharmacies, customers had to place their orders a full meter from the counter.
Both local and international flights at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport also had to be cancelled due to the lockdown.
Normally, the airport in Mactan is teeming with life. But this is what the airport looked like while the ECQ was in place.
The Need to Support Each Other
With people staying indoors, the national government ordered Local Government Units to support their constituents with food packs. Most LGUs responded by providing households with 5 kilos of rice, canned goods, and noodles.
A lot of companies also did their share to support their affected employees. Many companies arranged door-to-door transportation for their essential workers. Others gave out early bonuses, additional pay, and even sacks of rice.
Adjusting to the New Normal
Malls were ordered closed. Only ‘essential’ stores were allowed to operate. Inside SM City Cebu, Cebu City’s biggest mall, only the supermarket and a few pharmacies were allowed to open during the ECQ.
Only a few people at a time were allowed to enter SM City Cebu during the lockdown.
The usually very busy V. Rama Avenue, Cebu City’s longest avenue, was devoid of any vehicle at the height of the ECQ.
Only individuals with ECQ passes were allowed to leave their homes to do necessary purchases or transactions during the implementation of the ECQ.
This is what A. Soriano Avenue (Queen City Memorial Garden) looked like during the ECQ.
Fastfood restaurants like Jollibee no longer allowed dine-in clients. Take-out orders were still accepted but only a few people at a time were allowed to enter the restaurant premises.
A procession of the image of the Virgen sa Guadalupe a few days before Lent was done with social distancing being observed.
Some concerned citizens also took care of stray animals during the pandemic. This cat outside Jollibee remained nourished during the ECQ because of some good-hearted individuals.
A New Way of Life
Jollibee also started selling ready-to-cook meals to their guests to make it easier for people to enjoy their favorite Jollibee meals.
Barangay Guadalupe, considered a hotzone in the city, implemented a strict entry and exit policy. The Banawa exit was locked off completely.
Motorists may only enter the Barangay via the Capitol exit.
To leave the Barangay, motorists may only pass through the Englis exit.
With people staying at home, food delivery personnel were in great demand. In this photo, a swarm of Foodpanda drivers can be seen gathered outside this milktea shop in Guadalupe during the ECQ.
Customer service counters inside supermarkets also did precautionary measures to protect their personnel during the ECQ.
This is what the very busy Juana Osmena Street (adjacent to Mango Avenue) looks like on a Saturday night while the ECQ was in place.
Now, people are holed up in their own homes – afraid to come out, scared of even small gestures like a handshake or a pat on the back. Until when this thing will last, no one knows for certain. What we do know is that we now have to change our ways to be able to live on.