The national government recently introduced new phases from the enhanced community quarantine to a modified general version that will be implemented in some areas beginning Saturday or May 16.
President Rodrigo Duterte initially placed Metro Manila under community quarantine on March 12, and then expanded it to include the entire island of Luzon on May 17 in the directive called enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
These strict travel restrictions are imposed to help curb the spread of the virus which causes COVID-19 in the country.
On April 24, the government only placed areas that are considered high-risk of COVID-19 transmissions under ECQ and it then introduced a new protocol called general community quarantine in moderate to low-risk areas.
The ECQ was supposed to end on Friday after it was extended twice.
However, last Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced new quarantine measures called modified ECQ that will be implemented in high-risk areas including the National Capital Region, Cebu City, and Laguna until May 31. The rest of the country will be placed under GCQ.
The next day, the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) made changes on the quarantine rules on eight low-risk regions—Ilocos, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
These regions will now be placed under another a new directive called modified GCQ.
What are the difference of these phases? According to the government’s national action plan, the phased transitions should be:
- Modified ECQ
- Modified GCQ
- New normal
The Presidential Communications Operations Office released an infographic on the differences of the four phases.
Modified GCQ means “permissive socio-economic activities with minimum public health standards.”
Based on this setup, after May 15, the strict travel restrictions and limited movement imposed under ECQ would be partially lifted to graduate into modified ECQ.
Therefore, starting May 16, all cities and regions in the country would be covered by modified ECQ, GCQ, and modified GCQ.
In all these phases, Filipinos are still required to follow IATF-EID’s minimum public health standards against COVID-19.
These guidelines include wearing of masks, frequent sanitation, avoidance in touching of face and surfaces, markers placed in public spaces, social distancing, and testing.
Modified ECQ and GCQ
In the infographics released by the Presidential Communications Operations Office, only the modified ECQ and GCQ rules were mentioned.
LOOK: Here are the protocols that should be observed for areas under ECQ, modified ECQ, and GCQ as discussed by…
Residents are still ordered to stay at home. However, some work and leisure activities are allowed if they follow strict health protocols as mentioned earlier.
Aside from being allowed to leave to avail of basic goods and services, residents may also go out for limited outdoor exercises such as walking, jogging, running, and biking.
Mass gatherings involving up to five persons are also allowed. Schools are still closed.
Government offices, meanwhile, should only run with a skeletal workforce.
Only Filipinos who are vulnerable to get infected by COVID-19 and transmitters are required to stay at home.
Limited types of sports that need close contact with players such as golf and tennis are allowed.
Mass gatherings are restricted to ten people. Schools will only operate under a skeletal workforce.
What about transportation and businesses?
Public and private transportation
Roque said that all types of public transportation are still banned in areas under modified ECQ.
Only public shuttles for health workers and frontliners are allowed.
For private vehicles, company-owned or rented shuttles would be allowed, if they secure special permits from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. They should also only carry 50% of the vehicle’s capacity.
Personal private cars are still allowed but should observe a two-person per row rule.
Bicycles, motorcycles, and electronic scooters are also allowed under this measure but should only carry one person per ride.
When areas graduate to GCQ, all types of public and private transportation will be allowed but capacities should remain limited.
Businesses and industries
The IATF-EID divided businesses and industries in the country into four categories.
All establishments providing basic goods and services such as food, beverages, utilities and delivery services previously exempted during ECQ will remain open in modified GCQ and GCQ areas.
LOOK: Industries under Category 1 are allowed to operate under ECQ, MECQ, and GCQ.#LagingHandaPH#COVID19PH#workingPCOO#WeHealAsOne
Meanwhile, all types of manufacturing and real estate activities are allowed under modified GCQ but they require leasing. The rest under category II are allowed in both phases.
LOOK: Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque enumerated industries under Category 2 that are allowed to operate…
Majority of the businesses under category III required leasing for modified GCQ until affected areas transitioned to GCQ.
LOOK: Check out the industries under Category 3 that are allowed to operate based on the imposed quarantine…
Category IV businesses which are mostly recreational and exercise areas are still suspended even during GCQ phase.
LOOK: Industries under Category 4 remain closed regardless of the quarantine classification being implemented in an area.#LagingHandaPH#COVID19PH#workingPCOO#WeHealAsOne