ECQ and GCQ only: New COVID-19 response scheme for NCR approved

With the rising number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, the government's pandemic task force has "provisionally" approved the guidelines on the pilot implementation of the new alert levels system in the National Capital Region (NCR) that is targeted to be implemented from September 16 to 30, 2021.

Members of the Philippine National Police man a checkpoint in a barangay in Sampaloc, Manila after it was placed under lockdown on March 17, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Metro Manila was placed under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until September 15 despite an initial announcement that the region will shift back to the general community quarantine (GCQ) from September 8 until the end of the month.

In his press briefing on Friday, September 10, Roque said that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases agreed that there will now be only two quarantine classifications for NCR: ECQ and GCQ with alert levels.

According to Roque, areas placed under GCQ with alert levels shall follow the protocols consistent with their category. Details are still being ironed out.

He said the new policy seeks to keep industries open despite the implementation of granular lockdowns, except in areas that will be placed under Level 4.

"Ang policy shift ay nagnanais na manatiling bukas ang mga industriya sa GCQ, maliban sa mga nasa Level 4 (The policy shift seeks to keep industries open under GCQ, except in Level 4 areas)," he said.

For the duration of the pilot, classification of pilot areas in the alert levels shall be done weekly, unless otherwise specified. Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said the granular lockdowns will be declared by the mayors.

He said granular lockdowns will last for 14 days as a standard.

Limited movement

Under the new scheme, only health and allied health professionals will be considered as authorized persons outside of residence (APORs).

Strict mobility restrictions will be implemented except for:

  • Health care workers and non-health personnel (working in hospitals, labs, dialysis facilities)
  • Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) bound for international travel, and those returning and have completed facility-based quarantine upon arrival
  • Other exceptional circumstances including those seeking urgent medical attention

Households within areas under granular lockdown restrictions or families in isolation shall be provided assistance by their respective local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall ensure the transit of goods remain unimpeded and that the destination is not covered by granular lockdowns.

What is allowed?

The new scheme will have four alert levels from Alert Levels 1 to 4. It has classified industries to what is now called the "3Cs" which stand for closed, crowded, and close contact industries:

Closed or indoor:

  • Indoor social/non-essential activities
  • Indoor limited face-to-face classes
  • Indoor meetings, incentives, conferences, events (MICE)
  • Indoor cinemas and entertainment industries


  • Religious gatherings
  • Social gatherings - concerts, parties
  • Maximum capacity and physical distancing

Close contact:

  • Personal care services
  • Dine-in services
  • Other activities wherein appropriate use of personal protective equipment cannot be done

Except those located in areas covered by granular lockdowns, all other establishments, or activities not otherwise specified may be allowed to operate, provided they implement the minimum public health standards.

Meanwhile, the following are the operational capacities for establishments under ECQ and the four alert levels:

  • ECQ: Most sectors are not allowed
  • Alert 4: 3C activities are not allowed
  • Alert 3: 3C activities are allowed at 30 percent
  • Alert 2: 3C activities are allowed at 50 percent
  • Alert 1: Full capacity with minimum public health standards

Establishments will be allowed to increase their operational capacity by 10 percent if they have a safety seal certification and if the activity or gathering is conducted outdoors.