By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – President Rodrigo Duterte ordered another week of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the strictest quarantine status, in Metro Manila and its nearby provinces from March 29 to April 4, Malacañang announced on Saturday.
Duterte made the decision following the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser.
“Inaprubahan po ng ating Presidente ang rekomendasyon ng inyong IATF na ilagay muli sa enhanced community quarantine o ECQ ang National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna at Rizal (The President has approved the IATF’s recommendation to once again place National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under enhanced community quarantine or ECQ),” he said.
Roque said an intensified curfew from 6 p.m. (from the current 10 p.m.) to 5 a.m. will be implemented in the covered areas, or the so-called NCR Plus.
An ECQ status mandates all households to observe strict home quarantine. Movements will be limited to Authorized Persons Outside Residence, those accessing essential goods and services, and workers in establishments allowed to operate.
Mass gatherings (more than 10 persons outside and non-household members indoors) and face-to-face classes are also prohibited in ECQ zones. Mass transportation is allowed at limited capacity.
Roque said the decision was reached following the continuing upward trend in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections in the country.
On Saturday, the Department of Health reported 9,595 new cases that upped the active cases total to 118,122.
There were also 481 new recoveries for an overall toll of 581,161 out of 712,442 confirmed cases.
Religious gatherings and dine-in services are not allowed in ECQ zones but malls will remain open for essential services.
“Sa madaling salita, home-liners po tayo ulit (In short, we are home-liners anew),” Roque said. “Yung virus po ang kalaban, hindi po ang gobyerno, hindi po ang IATF (The virus is our enemy, not the government, not the IATF).”
Other essential guidelines under the ECQ are:
- Dining establishments for take-out and delivery only
- The government and the private sector may resume essential and priority constructions projects, so long as they follow the guidelines issues by the Department of Public Works and Highways;
- People aged below 18 and above 65, people with comorbidities, and pregnant women will not be allowed to go out, unless they need to either obtain essential goods and services or work in office;
- Travel and quarantine passes no longer needed;
- Full operation of public and private hospitals; health, emergency, and front-line services; manufacturers of medicines and medical supplies; agriculture, forestry; and fishery; and delivery and courier services transporting food, medicine, or other essential goods is allowed within NCR Plus;
- Private establishments offering essential goods and services, as well as media establishments, can operate at 50 percent capacity.
- Other establishments that can adopt a skeleton workforce include dental clinics, optometry clinics, pharmacies, veterinary clinics, banks, money transfer services, telecommunications companies, manufacturing firms, funeral and embalming services, and security personnel.
Roque assured that the government would exert all efforts to stop the further transmission of Covid-19.
“Huwag po tayong mawawalan ng loob. Tinitiyak po natin na handa ang gobyerno at tutulungan po kayo (Do not lose hope. We assure that the government is ready and will help you),” he said.
The highest single-day tally the country has recorded since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic was on Friday at 9,838 new cases. (PNA)