By Argie C. Aguja

The Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) order in the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Luzon (Region 3), Calabarzon (Region 4A) and other high-risk areas is further extended until May 15, Malacañang announced last Friday, April 24.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced the quarantine extensions and other government efforts to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, as recommended by the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).


Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque enumerated the areas covered by the extended ECQ until May 15: Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Albay and Catanduanes, while the status of Benguet, Pangasinan, Tarlac and Zambales may change by April 30.

Meanwhile, the situation in Antique, Aklan, Iloilo, Capiz, Cebu, Cebu City, Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro (formerly Compostela Valley) and Davao City will be re-checked. These areas were considered high-risk based on the rising number of cases and the shortfall in medical facilities.

Because of the ECQ order in these areas, public transportation will remain suspended and business establishments ordered closed, except those giving essential services like supermarkets, pharmacies and banks. Classes in all levels are still suspended while residents are ordered to remain indoors.


Starting May 1, a less stringent form of lockdown — General Community Quarantine (GCQ) — will be in place in areas with low to moderate risk. “All provinces not under the ECQ will be included in the ‘new normal’ called the GCQ,” Roque said.

Moderate-risk provinces include Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Sultan Kudarat and Lanao del Sur.

Meanwhile, the following provinces are considered low-risk areas: Apayao, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga, Ilocos Sur, Batanes, Quirino, Aurora, Palawan, Romblon, Camarines Norte, Masbate, Sorsogon, Guimaras, Bohol, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Davao Occidental, Sarangani, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Basilan and Sulu.


Meanwhile, there are provinces classified as moderate-risk areas that will be subject to evaluation. They can either be placed on ECQ or GCQ depending on the recommendations of the IATF. These are Abra, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Marinduque, Camarines Sur, Samar, Western Samar, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Maguindanao.

In areas placed under GCQ, the “new normal” will be as follows:

– Restricted movement but work is allowed in some sectors

– The general population may go out to acquire basic necessities, except those under 20 and over 60 years old must remain indoors

– Non-leisure stores in malls and shopping centers may partially open

– Restaurants may open for takeout and delivery only

– Airports and seaports may operate to allow unhampered movement of goods

– Full operation recommended for essential industries like agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food manufacturing and all supply chains, supermarkets, hospitals, logistics, media, and utilities like water, power, internet and telecoms

– 50 – 100 percent opening is recommended for electronics, exports, e-commerce and delivery, repair and maintenance services, housing and office services

– 50 percent onsite and 50 percent remote work is recommended for financial services, BPO, non-leisure wholesale trade and non-leisure service

– Priority and essential government construction projects may continue

– Higher education institutions may continue online classes to finish the academic year and issue credentials to students. School and universities should consider opening classes in September