TIMELINE: What has happened since the Luzon-wide quarantine was enforced
MANILA, Philippines — It has been nearly two weeks since Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine as a part of the government’s efforts to block the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) which has infected 707 people in the country as of Thursday.
What has happened since the quarantine was imposed?
President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metro Manila under community quarantine following the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Under the order, land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila are suspended from March 15, 2020, until April 14, 2020.
The Quezon City government also declared its own state of calamity. Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said the declaration is important so that the city government and the city’s barangays will be able to put in place measures in response to the disease such as the disinfection of barangays, tracking of persons under monitoring (PUMs) and patients under investigation (PUIs), and setting up of isolation rooms, among others.
On the same day, President Rodrigo Duterte also tested negative of the disease. Duterte took the test after some members of his Cabinet decided to place themselves under quarantine following exposure to a COVID-19 positive patient
Several airline companies announced the cancellation of some of their flights following Duterte’s quarantine order in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The city governments of Makati and Manila also announced the imposition of a curfew prohibiting any person from roaming the streets, commercial establishments, recreation centers, malls or other areas outside the immediate vicinity of their residence from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
President Rodrigo Duterte elevated the community quarantine enforced in Metro Manila to an enhanced community quarantine to cover the entire Luzon.
Under the enhanced community quarantine, “strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households; transportation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential services shall be regulated, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented.”
Exempted from the quarantine are frontliners including those giving medical services, funeral services, and security services. Emergency responders and those engaged in basic services such as bank employees, grocery and convenience store employees, pharmacists, food chain staffers, and crew, among others, are also exempted from the quarantine.
The local government of Parañaque City also declared a state of calamity due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Duterte placed the whole country under a state of calamity for a period of six months “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.”
This allows local government units (LGUs) to access quick response funds during emergency situations.
Duterte also ordered all law enforcement agencies, with the support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, “to undertake all necessary measures to ensure peace and order in affected areas, as may be necessary.”
Likewise, Duterte ordered all agencies and local government units (LGU) to implement the price control issuances of the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Agriculture (DA) on medicines and supplies, and selected agriculture and fishery commodities.
Some banks also announced the adjustment of their payment deadlines to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Duterte declared a ceasefire with communist rebels amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. The ceasefire took effect from March 19 until April 15, 2020.
The President also ordered the military and police to cease and desist from carrying out its counter-insurgency operations during the said period.
The Department of Health (DOH) also launched its emergency hotlines for Filipinos seeking guidance or assistance on matters related to COVID-19.
Callers can ask questions if they suspect they may have been infected with COVID-19, or request assistance if they have symptoms and/or known exposure to confirmed cases or patients under investigation.
The Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) also announced the extension of its deadline for the renewal of permits, licenses, and franchises.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced the temporary suspension of the issuance of visas and the visa-free entry privileges of foreign nationals.
All previously issued Philippine visas to foreign nationals are also deemed canceled, Locsin said.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) also extended the deadline for the filing of income tax returns (ITR) to May 15.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced the ban on foreigners entering the country in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. The ban took effect on March 22.
DOTr said Filipino migrant workers, repatriated Filipinos, foreign spouses of Filipino and their children (provided that the foreign nationals are traveling with the Filipinos), foreign government officials and international organization officials accredited to the Philippines are excluded from the temporary travel ban.
The Bureau of Immigration also imposed measures in relation to the implementation of the ban.
Several members of the executive and the legislative departments met to iron out a draft bill in response to aid in government’s measures to combat COVID-19.
Following the meeting, it was announced that the Senate and the House of Representatives will hold a special session to tackle and approve the bill which would allow Duterte to “realign available funds to address the COVID-19 emergency crisis.”
Duterte grants hazard pay to government workers who report for work during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said the administrative order that Duterte signed “authorizes national government agencies, including state universities and colleges and government-owned and -controlled corporations, to grant hazard pay not exceeding P500 per day per person to personnel who occupy regular, contractual or casual positions in the National Capital Region and other local government units.”
Congress held a special session to tackle and approve a bill declaring a national emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak and granting the President additional powers to address pressing matters.
After a marathon session, Congress finally approves the bill granting Duterte additional powers which was officially named as the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.”
Under the measure, health workers who contracted COVID-19 while on duty will receive a compensation of P100,000.
A financial aid of P1 million will also be extended to families of those who contracted the coronavirus and died while on duty. This provision has a retroactive effectivity from February 1, 2020.
Some 18 million low-income households will also receive an emergency subsidy amounting to P5,000 to P8,000 for two months.
Flag-carrier Philippine Airlines meanwhile announced the temporary suspension of its international flights from March 26 up to April 14 as they “could no longer sustain even a limited number of international flights” as more countries implement strict travel and entry restrictions because of the pandemic.
Duterte signs Bayanihan to Heal as One Act into law.
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