Strict restrictions remain in ‘NCR Plus’
MANILA, Philippines — Even with the shift to a less stringent quarantine category, Malacañang expects little changes in restrictions to prevail over Metro Manila and four nearby provinces starting Monday up to the end of April.
“All of us are still home-liners. The only ones allowed outside are those buying essential goods and services, those working in offices and establishments allowed to operate, and those who are Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (Apor),” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press briefing on Monday.
President Duterte approved the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in the National Capital Region and the provinces of Laguna, Bulacan, Rizal and Cavite amid rising cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as his administration attempts to ease the grave impact of the pandemic on the economy and health-care system.
Some 1.5 million workers lost their jobs during the previous two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez. He expected 500,000 or a third of the number to go back to work under the MECQ should their employers decide to reopen their business establishments.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the temporary body overseeing the government’s response to the health crisis, amended its MECQ guidelines last week, but retained its rule not to allow those below 18 years and over 65 to go out, together with those having immunodeficiency, comorbodities and other health risks.
Local government units (LGUs), however, may lower the age restriction to 15 years old.
Individual outdoor exercises, such as walking, jogging, running or biking within the general area of residence are also now allowed.
Roque said all transportation systems—road, rail, maritime and aviation—could operate in such capacity and protocols in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Department of Transportation.
Religious gatherings are now allowed with up to 10 percent capacity of the venue, which can be increased to up to 30 percent by LGUs.
The only other mass gatherings allowed are those for necrological services, wakes, interment and funerals, but for immediate family members of the deceased.
All other types of mass gatherings, including those outside the house with any person not belonging to one’s immediate household, remain prohibited under MECQ.
As for restaurants and fast-food outlets, Roque said indoor dining was still prohibited but al fresco or outdoor dining is permitted.
Roque said media establishments, which were allowed only up to 50 percent of their staff reporting for work under ECQ, could now have a full labor complement under MECQ.
Establishments restricted to skeleton personnel during ECQ are now allowed full-site capacity. These include dental clinics, eye clinics, veterinary clinics, banks, money transfer services, capital markets, water supply, janitorial/sanitation services, energy sector, telecommunication companies, internet service providers, airline, aircraft maintenance, flying schools, manning agencies, funeral and embalming services, security agencies.
Printing establishments, companies engaged in repair of machinery and equipment, as well as motorized and nonmotorized vehicles, real estate firms, job placement agencies, schools attending to concerns of teaching and nonteaching staff, law firms, and businesses engaged in buying and selling of consumer goods and services via internet.
All establishments not allowed to operate under ECQ shall be allowed to operate at 50-percent on-site capacity while encouraging work from home and other flexible arrangements, where applicable.
Still prohibited from reopening under MECQ are establishment venues with live performances, karaoke bars, clubs and concert halls; recreational venues such a internet cafés, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling allies and other similar venues; amusement parks or theme parks, fairs and children’s amusement industries; outdoor sports, courts or venues for contact sports, scrimmages, games or activities; personal cares services;
Indoor sports, courts or venues, fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centers or facilities such as swimming pools, casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops and other gambling establishments, except for the draws conducted by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office; indoor visitor or tourist attractions such as libraries, archives, museums, galleries and cultural shows and exhibits; and all outdoor tourist attractions.
But some businesses would rather stay closed until the end of the month, Trade Secretary Lopez said in a radio interview, citing his talks with stakeholders in the restaurant business.
The COVID death toll has breached the 15,000 mark, with the addition of 204 fatalities, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday. Thirty-four cases previously tagged as recovery were reclassified as deaths after validation, bringing the total number of fatalities to 15,149, while 267 recovered from the disease.
Daily new infections stayed past above the 10,000 mark. The DOH listed 11,378 new cases on Monday.
Total number of active cases is now 157,451. Six testing laboratories, however, failed to submit its reports to the DOH.
—WITH REPORTS FROM ROY STEPHEN C. CANIVEL AND MARICAR CINCO
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