New COVID-19 Alert Levels System in NCR: Do's and Don'ts

Published September 10, 2021, 3:50 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Only ECQ and GCQ.

After admitting that the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was not working as intended anymore, Malacañang has recently announced a new way the country will deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: Alert Levels.

LOCKDOWN. Barangay tanods in Pasay City barricade a street in an area placed under a ‘special concerned lockdown’ after some residents got infected with COVID-19. (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

With this major policy shift, here are some of the general guidelines for the pilot implementation of the Alert Levels System for COVID-19 in the National Capital Region (NCR).

But first…

The government is targeting to pilot the new scheme from September 16 to 30 in Metro Manila only. The rest of the country will continue to follow the current community quarantine classifications:

  • ECQ
  • Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ)
  • General Community Quarantine (GCQ)
  • Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ)

The objective of the pilot implementation is to assess if granular lockdowns can be equally effective in reducing COVID-19 transmissions than wide-scale community quarantines.

It will implement actions of local government units (LGUs) and give them authority to act and implement actions consistent with their own risk assessments.

The pilot implementation aims to identify and address implementation issues before national rollout if it will turn out to be effective.

It also seeks to identify opportunities for improvement of sector-specific guidelines and easing for fully vaccinated individuals.


The new policy will only have ECQ and GCQ and will strengthen the granular lockdowns being implemented by LGUs.

In specific areas with case clusters, only three groups of people are classified as authorized persons outside of residence (APORs):

  • 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


Industries are now classified into three categories known as the 3Cs: Closed or indoor, Crowded, and Close Contact.

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

  • 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.

Other establishments or activities not specified are allowed to operate, provided that they implement the minimum public health standards.

Private establishments will be allowed to operate at full capacity under Alert Level 1, provided they implement minimum public health standards.

Minimal on-site capacity, and work-from-home, and flexible work arrangements are advised under Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4.

Government work

Government agencies and instrumentalities will be allowed to operate at the following capacities under the different alert levels:

  • Alert Level 1: Full capacity, provided with minimum public health standards.
  • Alert Level 2: At least 50 percent on-site capacity
  • Alert Level 3: At least 30 percent on-site capacity
  • Alert Level 4: At least 20 percent on-site capacity

Age restrictions and mobility

Under Alert Level 1, everyone is allowed movement, except for reasonable restrictions on 3Cs that will be identified by LGUs.

Under Alert Levels 2 and 3, movement of persons is allowed, except for reasonable restrictions based on age and comorbidities determined by LGUs.

For Alert Level 4, only those aged 18 to 65 will be allowed to go out. Those who do not belong in the said age bracket, with comorbidities and pregnant women will not be allowed to go out.