The National Capital Region (NCR) will be placed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20 after undergoing a week-long stricter general community quarantine (GCQ) due to the spike in cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In an announcement over PTV-4, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said President Duterte approved placing Metro Manila back to ECQ but will first undergo a week-long GCQ with heightened and additional restrictions from July 30 to August 5.
According to Roque, placing NCR back to ECQ was not an easy decision to make because of the government’s aim to balance arresting the spread of COVID-19 due to the Delta variant and reducing the number of people experiencing hunger because of the pandemic.
“Masakit na desisyon po natin ito dahil alam nating mahirap ang ECQ (This was a painful decision to make because we know how difficult life is under ECQ),” he said Friday, July 30.
“Kinakailangan gawin po ito para maiwasan ang kakulangan ng ICU beds at hospital requirements kung lolobo po talaga ang kaso dahil nga po sa Delta variant (We needed to do this to prevent a shortage of ICU beds and other hospital requirements in case the number of cases will surge due to the Delta variant),” he added.
Roque said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases made the decision to save the lives of many people.
“Sa huli, ang inisip nga po ng lahat ay kailangang gawin ang mahirap na desisyon na ito para mas maraming buhay ang maligtas (In the end, everybody thought that this difficult decision was necessary to save more lives),” he said.
“Sabi nga ni Presidente, mahirap man, mapait man ang desisyon na ginawa natin, ito po ay para sa kabutihan ng lahat (Like what the President said, the decision may be difficult but this was for everyone’s welfare),” he added.
The Palace official advised business owners to take the GCQ period to make the necessary arrangements, especially if their business will not be allowed to operate under ECQ.
Roque reminded residents of Metro Manila that there was no need for panic buying since supermarkets and grocery stores remain open under ECQ.
“Importante lang po ngayon, itong linggo na ito ay lahat tayo makapagplano (What’s important is we use this week to make plans),” he said.
In a text message, Roque said President Duterte has directed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to source funds for the cash aid for residents affected by the ECQ.
Metro Manila mayors and some members of the business sectors had urged the government to place the region under ECQ as a precautionary measure against the dreaded Delta variant as long as there would be cash aid or ayuda for the residents.
According to Roque, the government did not have enough funds for further ayuda but said it will look for ways to fund another round of the amelioration program if declaring ECQ was inevitable.
As of July 29, the country has recorded 216 cases of the more contagious Delta variant. So far, the Philippines has reported 1,562,420 COVID-19 cases with 1,478,265 recoveries and 27,318 deaths.
GCQ with heightened, additional restrictions
NCR will be under GCQ with heightened and additional restrictions from July 30 to August 5.
Under this new form of GCQ, indoor and al fresco dining services will be prohibited from July 31. Only take-out and delivery services shall be allowed.
Personal care services like beauty salons and parlors, barbershops, and spas may operate up to 30 percent of venue capacity.
Indoor sports courts and venues, indoor tourist attractions, and specialized markets of the Department of Tourist (DOT) like staycations may not operate.
Outdoor tourist attractions shall remain to be allowed at 30-percent venue capacity.
During this period, only authorized persons outside residence (APORs) shall be allowed to travel to and from the NCR-plus area.
Only virtual religious gatherings shall be allowed but gatherings for wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 shall be allowed but limited to immediate family members.
Public transportation shall remain operational.