Palace releases MECQ guidelines for all, calls for strict implementation

Malacañang has directed government agencies and local government units to implement the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) guidelines in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces.

A police officer (L) speaks to a motorist at a checkpoint as they conduct identity checks during a new round of lockdown measures for the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, along a road in Manila on August 4, 2020. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued a memorandum addressed to all heads of government departments and offices as well as local government units about the new quarantine status of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal and the need to enforce the health-related measures.

The memorandum also covers the heads of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, government -owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs), government financial institutions, state universities and colleges, and LGUs.

Medialdea said they must "strictly observe and implement the applicable guidelines provided under Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, as amended, issued by the IATF, and other relevant issuances.”

He said the MECQ status takes effect 12:01 a.m. of August 4 until 11:59 p.m. of August 18.

Last Sunday, President Duterte agreed to reimpose MECQ in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal and Laguna for two weeks following an appeal from the medical community for tougher lockdowns to stem the coronavirus outbreak.  The five areas were previously under the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ).

The health frontliners have called for a timeout amid concerns about the healthcare system has become overwhelmed with surging cases of infections.

Under MECQ, public transportation will be suspended anew while quarantine passes will be required to limit the movement of the people. 

People living in MECQ places are required to observe home quarantine except for going to work and accessing essential goods and services. Domestic flights and inter-island travel are not allowed.

Healthcare, manufacturing of essential goods, delivery and courier services and other businesses, as well as essential private and public construction projects are allowed to operate in MECQ areas.

Barbershops and salons, gyms, sports facilities, review and tutorial centers, internet cafés, language, driving and dance schools,  theaters, libraries, museums and cultural centers are among the sectors not allowed to operate during MECQ.

Tourist destinations and travel related activities and live events, full body massage, tattoo and body piercing, and live events are also prohibited. Restaurant operations are limited to delivery and take out.

Individual outdoor exercises such outdoor walks, running and biking are allowed.

Mass gatherings are prohibited except for those related to critical government services and humanitarian activities. Religious gatherings are limited to five persons.