- When COVID-19 started in PH
- When the lockdown changed lifestyles and work patterns
- When acronyms — ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, MGCQ — meant levels of restrictions
- After 20 months, the curfew is lifted on Nov. 4, 2021
For almost two years now, the Philippines has been struggling to defeat an invisible enemy — the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As the number of cases rose, dipped, surged, dipped again, the government had imposed various restrictions that came under community quarantines, lockdowns, and more recently alert levels.
Here’s a timeline of what transpired from January 2020 to Nov. 4, 2021. Aside from implementing the health and safety protocols, the government, through the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) responded to the pandemic’s surges by imposing different levels of community quarantine — enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified community quarantine (MECQ), general community quarantine (GCQ), modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), and more recently, the alert levels — in different areas in the country.
January – February 2020
A Chinese couple came to Manila on Jan. 21 of last year. Both tested positive with COVID-19, making them the first and second COVID cases in the country. The second case, which was a 44-year-old Chinese man, died on Feb. 1.
In order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has barred all nationalities, except Filipinos, from entering the country on Feb. 2. This included all individuals who visited China before coming to the Philippines.
March – April 2020
On March 3, the Department of Health (DOH) announced the first local case of COVID-19 in the Philippines — a 62-year-old Filipino with no known travel history to countries where virus infection cases were documented.
Due to the local transmission and rapid development of COVID-19 cases in the country, President Duterte placed Metro Manila under a 30-day community quarantine or “lockdown” on March 12.
Following the significant rise of the coronavirus cases, President Duterte placed the entire island of Luzon under ECQ until April 12, last year.
In order to limit people’s movement and prevent the spread of COVID-19 sickness, the president also increased the severe quarantine measures outside of Metro Manila.
May – June 2020
Except for high-risk areas, National Capital Region (NCR), Laguna, and Cebu City, under MECQ, Malacañang placed the entire country under GCQ on May 16, to combat the new virus.
By the end of May, President Duterte announced that Metro Manila, along with other areas, would be placed under GCQ starting on June 1. And from June 16 to June 30, the president approved the suggestion to keep Metro Manila under GCQ and changed the quarantine status of Cebu City to ECQ.
July – August 2020
On July 1, Malacañang said that Metro Manila had maintained its GCQ status after the government noted substantial compliance to protocols in slowing down the doubling rate of COVID-19 cases.
On Aug. 5, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 3,462 new cases of COVID-19 within the country. According to the DOH, the total number of illnesses in the country at that time rose to 115,980, with 47,587 active cases.
A total of 2,123 people died as a result of the sickness. Meanwhile, 222 additional people survived, bringing the total number of survivors to 66,270.
In early August, Malacañang announced and placed the majority of the country under MGCQ from Aug. 16 to 31 except for 15 areas that were still in stricter lockdown measures.
Among the 15 areas were Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under MECQ until Aug.18.
Classified under GCQ were Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Lapu Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, Municipality of Minglanilla, Cebu, and Municipality of Consolacion, Cebu.
September – October 2020
By the end of August, President Duterte announced that Metro Manila would stay under GCQ until Sept. 30.
Despite the continued lower trend in confirmed cases, in mid-September, an expert from the OCTA Research Team monitoring the COVID-19 epidemic in the Philippines warned that Metro Manila was not yet ready to transfer to the most relaxed community quarantine.
It was also announced by the end of the month that NCR would remain under GCQ until Oct. 31.
November – December 2020
President Duterte stated at the end of October that Metro Manila and six other areas would be placed under GCQ for the month of November to assist combat the spread of COVID-19.
As the threat of COVID-19 looms, Metro Manila mayors unanimously voted on Dec. 3 to restrict minors from leaving their homes, including traveling to malls.
Jose Arturo Garcia, General Manager of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), revealed that all 17 mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR) voted to prohibit minors aged 17 and under from leaving their homes.
January – April 2021
President Duterte said by the end of December 2020 that 10 areas, including Metro Manila, would be placed under GCQ for the entire month of January 2021, amid renewed requests to stay at home as much as possible to avoid coronavirus infection.
Malacañang declared on Feb. 27 that the NCR and nine other districts in the Philippines would stay under the GCQ for another 31 days as the country observes its first year under lockdown.
The national government received 2,379,200 doses of anti-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines, bolstering attempts to vaccinate more healthcare professionals amid an alarming spike in new illnesses.
According to IATF Resolution No. 104 issued on March 21, the country received 1.4 million CoronaVac vaccines from Sinovac Biotech, a Chinese pharmaceutical business, between March 23 and 24.
From April 12 to April 30, 2021, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Santiago City, Quirino, and Abra have been placed under MECQ.
May – August 2021
IATF has mandated that all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, be quarantined for 14 days upon the arrival. On the seventh day after their arrival, these passengers must be checked for coronavirus. The updated protocols were included in IATF Resolution No. 114, which was released on May 6.
President Duterte ordered a small lifting of quarantine regulations in NCR and the province of Bulacan on June 14, as the two areas were shifted to GCQ with “some restrictions” from June 16 to 30, 2021.
On July 7, President Duterte has approved returning NCR and 29 other locations in the country to the usual GCQ status till the end of the month, after their previous COVID-19 quarantine classification expired on July 15.
Despite the continuous surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, the government’s pandemic task team has agreed to lower NCR and Laguna from ECQ to MECQ commencing Aug. 21, according to Malacañang.
The remark was delivered by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque one day before the ECQ in both areas expired on Aug. 20.
The IATF approved placing Metro Manila and Laguna under MECQ from Aug. 21 to 31.
September – October 2021
By the end of August, Malacañang announced that the National Capital Region, Bataan, and Laguna will remain under MECQ from Sept. 1 to 7, with the same additional restrictions.
In the same month, the COVID-19 Alert Levels System was tested in NCR. It’s a new system of quarantine categories that applies to entire cities, municipalities, or regions.
This method is made up of five alert levels and the granular lockdown technique, which is a two-week micro-level quarantine for regions declared “critical zones” by local government units (LGUs).
Starting Sept. 8. until the end of the month, Metro Manila shifted back to GCQ.
As part of the upgraded version to contain the COVID-19 surge, Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 4 on Sept. 16, enforcing granular lockdowns only in vital sectors.
By the end of September, the government’s pandemic task force had placed 11 regions under MECQ until Oct. 15, 2021, while 25 areas went under GCQ with heightened restrictions until the end of the month.
On Oct. 13, IATF approved the recommendation to reduce the alert level in NCR from alert level 4 to alert level 3 until Oct. 31.
As of Nov. 2, the Philippines registered 2,303 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest single-day new infection rate in eight months.
In a bid to assist revitalize the country’s economy, Metro Manila mayors decided to lift the curfew hours in the National Capital Region on Nov. 4, for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak.
The lifting of the curfew hours, which were previously enforced as a health measure against COVID-19, will complement the altered mall operation hours of 11 a.m. under MMDA Resolution No. 21-25, which was signed by all 17 mayors. until 11 p.m. in order to prepare for the Christmas season’s shopping.
From Nov. 1 to 15, 2021, Mountain Province, Catanduanes, and Zamboanga City will be under MECQ.
Meanwhile, the provinces of Abra, Cagayan, Isabela, Santiago, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino will be placed under GCQ with heightened restrictions, from Nov. 1 until 31.
Ifugao, Benguet, Apayao, Kalinga, Ilocos Sur, Dagupan City, Batanes, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Albay, Naga City, Camarines Norte, and Tacloban City are all classified as GCQ for the entire month of November.
Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, General Santos City, Sarangani, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Butuan City, Dinagat Islands, Cotabato City, and Lanao del Sur have all been placed under GCQ for the whole month of November, all other regions not named will be subject to MGCQ.
On Nov. 3, the country logged 1,591 new cases of COVID-19 cases, the lowest since February.
The number of active cases was likewise low, despite the fact that the total number of infections had dropped to 38,014. These instances account for 1.4 percent of the total number of cases, which now stands at 2,793,898.
Approximately 69 percent of current cases are classified as mild, 5.2 percent as asymptomatic, 13.87 percent as moderate, 8.1 percent as severe, and 3.4 percent as critical. There were also 186 new fatalities and 4,294 new recoveries.
On Nov. 4, IATF approved the de-escalation of NCR from alert level 3 to alert level 2.