(2ND UPDATE) The government is extending until May 15 the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the Philippine capital and nearby regions in order to further contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
At the same time, some “low and moderate-risk” areas will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) starting May 1.
In a taped address aired on Friday morning, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved the task force’s recommendation for a two-week extension of the ECQ in Metro Manila, Central Luzon (Region III), Calabarzon (Region IV-A – Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) and other provinces that continue to face high risk of COVID-19 infections.
“Panatilihin po ang ECQ sa NCR, Region III, Region IV-A and all other areas kung saan mataas pa po ang banta ng COVID-19 hanggang Mayo 15. Magkakaroon po ng re-evaluation pagdating ng May 16 (The ECQ will be kept in NCR, Region III, Region IV-A and all other areas where there is high risk of COVID-19 until May 15. There will be an re-evaluation when May 16 comes),” he said.
Upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), Mr. Roque said the following areas will remain under ECQ: Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales, Pampanga, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Albay, Catanduanes, Benguet and Pangasinan.
For Visayas and Mindanao, the lockdown will continue in Antique, Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Cebu province, Cebu City, Davao del Norte, Davao City and Davao de Oro.
In the Visayas, the IATF considered the island of Panay (Antique, Iloilo, Aklan and Capiz), Cebu province and Cebu City subject to ECQ, subject to further evaluation. In Mindanao, Davao del Norte and Davao City are considered high-risk, while Davao de Oro (formerly Compostela Valley) is subject to ECQ and subject to recheck.
For Tarlac, Pangasinan, Benguet, Zambales, Antique, Iloilo, Cebu, Cebu City and Davao de Oro, the ECQ may be reevaluated and can still be downgraded to a general community quarantine (GCQ) by month-end.
Mr. Roque said all other provinces identified as “low-risk” and “moderate risk” and not part of the extended ECQ will be placed under GCQ starting May 1.
“Ang lahat po ng probinsya na hindi kasama dito sa mananatili ang ECQ ay mapapasailalim po sa ‘new normal’ na tinatawag na (All provinces not part of the extension of the ECQ will be under the ‘new normal’ that is called the) general community quarantine),” Mr. Roque said.
The Department of Health, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Department of Public Works and Highways are preparing the set of minimum health standards to be implemented as part of the on-going lockdown.
Mr. Roque said the IATF-EID’s recommended guidelines for the GCQ are being finalized and will be out next week.
For areas under the GCQ, the IATF proposed that those employed by companies in “sectors I, II and III” will be allowed to go work in phases.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. A–o said companies under Sector I, which includes agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food manufacturing including all supply chains such as packaging and raw materials, supermarkets, restaurants (for takeout and delivery), hospitals, logistics, water, energy, Internet, telecommunications, and media, can resume 100% of operations.
Sector II covers firms allowed to operate at 50-100% capacity, such as “manufacturing of electronics and exports, e-commerce and delivery for essential and non-essential items, repair and maintenance services, housing, and office services.”
Companies under Sector III can have 50% staff on-site and 50% working from home, such as financial services, business process outsourcing, other non-leisure wholesale and retail trade, and other non-leisure services.
However, Mr. Roque said those under Sector IV should remain closed during the GCQ. These sector includes companies involved in amusement and gaming, fitness, and tourism. Mass gatherings such as religious services and conferences will continue to be disallowed.
The IATF-EID also recommended that those aged 0-20 and those 60 years old and above to continue to stay at home, as well as those with high health risk.
Local government units should still enforce a night curfew.
In the areas under the GCQ, Mr. Roque said non-leisure shops in malls may be opened, but only a limited number of people aged between 21 to 59 with masks and ID can enter.
Public transportation may operate at reduced capacity.
Airports and ports can also continue to operate but only for goods.
Priority and essential construction projects will also be allowed to resume under the GCQ.
“For GCQ areas, iko-consider po ang reprioritizing ng SAP (we will consider reprioritizing the Social Amelioration Program) cash subsidy towards ECQ areas,” Mr. Roque said.
The lockdown in Luzon, which accounts for 70% of the Philippine economy, began in mid-March. It was originally scheduled to end on April 12 but was extended to April 30.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Health department reported total deaths due to COVID-19 reached 462, while infections stood at 6,981. Total recoveries are now at 722. — Gillian M. Cortez