By Argyll Geducos, Jel Santos, and Aaron Recuenco
The government will begin enforcing today, March 15, 2020, the community quarantine in the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
As part of the community quarantine, local government units, upon the recommendation of the Metro Manila Council (MMC), will impose curfew, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., in the metropolis effective next week after LGUs passed their respective ordinances to that effect, Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia said.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy for operations, said the LGUs had already vowed to pass their respective ordinances on Monday, March 16.
Workers, especially those whose jobs are essential to the health and security of the public, will be exempted from the curfew.
“Always bring your proof of employment so that you can show it to authorities once they asked why you are still out even it is already curfew,” Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy for operations, said.
While curfew is not yet imposed, Eleazar said they will be checking movements of people to find out if it is necessary.
Meanwhile, based on a memorandum on the community quarantine, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, mass gatherings such as movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work-related gatherings shall be prohibited.
Essential work-related meetings and religious activities may continue so long as strict social distancing, defined as the strict maintenance of a distance of at least one-meter radius between and among those attending, is maintained during the entirety of the event.
Classes and other schools activities are suspended until April 14.
Under the memorandum, community quarantine was further classified into two:
- General community quarantine – movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points.
- Enhanced community quarantine – strict community quarantine in households shall be implemented; transportation should be suspended; food and essential health services shall be regulated; heightened presence of military personnel.
Under general community quarantine
- Land, sea, air restricted. All workers, whether employed or self-employed, will be provisionally allowed to travel to and from NCR.
- Non-essential entry and exit of people to contained area, especially persons who are at high risk of being infected like senior citizens, immunocompromised or with co-morbidities, and pregnant women.
- Exempted – health workers, authorized government officials, those traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons, persons transiting to airports for travel abroad, persons providing basic services and public utilities, and essential skeletal workforce.
- All persons leaving the contained community must be checked for signs and symptoms like fever, respiratory symptoms, and diarrhea at exit checkpoints.
- Exiting persons will be required to undertake 14-day home-based quarantine; LGUs required to monitor home-based quarantine.
- Alternative working arrangements include, but not limited to, work-from-home, compressed workweek, staggered working hours, and creation of skeletal workforces in the Executive Branch.
- All members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and health and emergency frontline services directed to continue full operation.
- The Legislative and Judicial Branches, as well as the independent constitutional bodies, are encouraged to adopt the same policy.
- Private sector encouraged to implement flexible work arrangements following guidelines set by the Departments of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Trade and Industry (DTI).
- All manufacturing, retail, and service establishments are also advised to remain open but reminded to observe strict social distancing measures.
- Inbound travelers from Iran and Italy, except Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouse and children, if any, and holders of Permanent Resident Visas or 9(e) Diplomatic Visas issued by the Philippine Government, shall be required to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within 48 hours immediately preceding departure signifying that they have tested negative for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, President Duterte and Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go tested negative for COVID-19. (With a report from Mario B. Casayuran)