THE government will allow religious and work-related gatherings under a relaxed lockdown in some areas of the country, the presidential palace said on Thursday.
Mass public gatherings under the so-called general community quarantine would remain prohibited, presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque said at a news briefing, citing guidelines issued by an inter-agency task force.
People attending religious services and work-related meetings must observe social distancing to prevent the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from spreading, Mr. Roque said.
Minimum health standards must also be met including wearing face masks and shields and hand sanitation, he added.
Under the rules, social distancing of at least a meter between passengers of public transportation will be enforced.
Low- and medium-risk areas will be placed under a more relaxed lockdown starting May 1.
High-risk areas such as Metro Manila, Central Luzon except Aurora, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Pangasinan, Benguet, Iloilo, Cebu and Davao City will remain under the stricter enhanced community quarantine until May 15.
Bacolod was also included in high-risk areas as proposed by provincial officials.
The movement of people under the general community quarantine will be limited to accessing basic needs and work in permitted industries, Mr. Roque said.
Starting May 16, all decisions to impose, lift or extend a community quarantine in provinces, highly-urbanized cities and independent component cities will be made by the inter-agency task force, according to a copy of the rules.
Provincial governors may impose, lift or extend the quarantine in cities and municipalities upon the concurrence of the relevant regional counterpart body of the task force.
Local chief executives of cities and municipalities may also impose, lift or extend the enhanced community quarantine in villages, upon the concurrence of the relevant regional counterpart body of the task force.
President Rodrigo R. Duerte locked down the entire Luzon island on March 17, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain a COVID-19 outbreak. He has extended this twice — first by two more weeks until April 30 and by two more weeks until May 15 for some parts of the island. — Gillian M. Cortez