Metro Manila adopts uniform 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew starting March 15
MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila would have a uniform curfew starting March 15, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the following two weeks to curb rising COVID-19 infections in the region.
In an online briefing on Thursday, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairperson Benhur Abalos said that the curfew was one of the measures agreed upon by Metro Manila mayors, aside from aggressive testing and contact-tracing.
He also revealed that they reached the decision after growth in new cases: from February 2 to 10, Metro Manila contributed just eight percent of the country’s new COVID-19 cases, but it is now at 60 percent — causing alarm among local executives.
“Napagkasunduan na ang bagong oras ng curfew ay magiging alas diyes ng gabi hanggang alas singko ng umaga, at ito ay magsisimula sa Lunes. As I am speaking right now the resolution is being drafted, to be signed by all of the mayors,” Abalos told reporters.
(It has been agreed upon that the new curfew hours would be from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., and this would start on Monday. As I am speaking right now the resolution is being drafted, to be signed by all of the mayors.)
“Ang timetable po dito ay dalawang linggo lamang, this is for two weeks. Bakit dalawang linggo? Dahil ang buhay ng virus ay mga dalawang linggo, makikita mo na. Kung ito ay may improvement, maaaring tanggalin na po ito,” he added.
(The timetable for this curfew is two weeks. Why two weeks? Because the virus can manifest in humans within two weeks, so you could observe it already. If there is an improvement in the number of cases, we can lift the curfew.)
According to Abalos, there would also be an “enhanced enforcement” of health protocols — from testing to contact-tracing and quarantine.
“Bukod dito ay iigtingan din ng mga alkalde ang tinatawag na granular lockdown, na kung saan ay kung may clustering — ibig sabihin po nito ay may mga grupo-grupong impeksyon sa bawa’t lugar, bawa’t bahay, bawa’t kalye — pwede po itong ipasarado maski ang isang barangay,” he stressed.
(Aside from this, mayors would intensify the granular lockdowns, wherein areas with clustering of cases — which means infections by a group for each area, each household and each road — mayors can order the closure even of a whole barangay.)
“Sabay-sabay po ito, at of course aside from that there would be strict enforcement, ‘yong paggamit ng mga mask, from the barangay captains pababa, mga bantay bayan, hanggang sa lahat ng kapulisahan. These would be very stringent measures dahil hindi po biro ang nakitang mga numero ng mga mayors,” he added.
(These would be simultaneous, and of course, aside from that we would have strict enforcement of the protocols like wearing of the masks, which would be done by barangay captains, other local officials, and the entire police force. These would be very stringent measures because the numbers seen by the mayors are alarming.
The measure would come after researchers and health groups warned as early as March 1 that a quicker COVID-19 surge is already taking place in Metro Manila.
Some speculated that this might be due to the COVID-19 variants of concern — the United Kingdom’s B.1.1.7 variant and the South Africa B.1.135 — spreading undetected.
Despite the new curfews, Abalos assured that they would try their best to avoid straining the economy, as they would not restrict the delivery of essential goods, while people working for essential industries would not be barred from traveling.
“‘Yong mga essential workers, for one, wala naman po talagang problema dito, talagang pwede pong maglabas pasok dahil ang curfew po, maski hanggang alas diyes, ‘yong mga takeout, we allow them, and restaurants, they could operate 24 hours,” he said.
(For the essential workers, for one, there would be no problem, they can move freely because even if the curfew starts by 10:00 p.m., there are takeout operations open and some restaurants operate for 24 hours.)
“Even the workers, if they come from essential industries, pe-pwede rin po sila (they can move freely),” he added.
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