The country’s pandemic task force has approved a recommendation to ease the strict lockdown in Metro Manila and Laguna until end of the month, according to the presidential palace.

Metro Manila and Laguna would be placed under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 21 to Aug. 31, Palace spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said in a statement.

The two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the capital region ends on Friday (Aug. 20). The stricter lockdown curbs were implemented starting Aug. 6 to curb a surge in coronavirus infections believed to be triggered by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Bataan will also be placed under a modified lockdown from Aug. 23 to Aug. 31, he added.

Dine-in services, booth indoor and outdoor, and personal care services would not be allowed to operate in areas under a modified lockdown, Mr. Roque said.
“Religious gatherings shall remain virtual in the National Capital Region, Bataan and Laguna,” he added.

The Health department on Thursday recorded 14,895 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the active cases to 111,720. This is the second highest daily increase in infections since the start of the pandemic, Reuters reported.

The government cut its full-year growth target to 4-5% earlier this week.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee had said that without the current spike in coronavirus infections and the more stringent lockdowns, the previous 6-7% GDP growth target was achievable. – Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza