Metro Manila quarantine: Travel only to get supplies and for work

Jonathan de Santos - Philstar.com
Metro Manila quarantine: Travel only to get supplies and for work
Fire volunteers spray disinfectant on the streets and houses as part of the disinfection and sterilization process by the local government against the spread of the novel coronavirus disease in Mandaluyong City on March 13, 2020.
The STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines (Update 3, 11:13 a.m.) — The Palace has released a memorandum operationalizing community quarantine imposed on Metro Manila, which includes the restriction of the non-essential entry into and exit from contained areas.

According to an undated memorandum released to Palace media, the entire National Capital Region is under community quarantine to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), with a general community quarantine meaning "movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points."

The memorandum will be effective from midnight on March 15 to midnight on April 14.

Areas under general community quarantine will restrict the "non-essential entry of people", especially those at high risk of being infected like the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.

Non-essential exit from the contained area will be restricted, although health workers, authorized government officials, and those traveling for medical and humanitarian reasons will be allowed through after being checked for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Those allowed through checkpoints will be issued appropriate certifications by competent health authorities and will be endorsed to recipient local government units.

Those who leave the contained area must go through a 14-day home quarantine that the LGUs are required to monitor.

Enhanced quarantine will mean strict home quarantine in all households and the suspension of transportation.

"Provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated; and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures," the memorandum also reads.

It is yet unclear when and why an enchanced quarantine is to be declared.

Class suspensions, ban on mass gatherings

The government's social distancing measures include the suspension of classes until April 14, although education departments and agencies have been tasked with ensuring scjools "provide adequate arangements to allow students to continue fulfilling their requirements during said period."

Local government units and LGUs are to make sure that students stay at home during the class suspension.

Mass gatherings—"planned or spontaneous events where the number of people attending...could strain the planning and response resources of the city or municipality"—are prohibited during the quarantine.

Among the events specifed are movie screenings, concerts, sporting events, community assemblies and non-essential work-related gatherings.

Essential gatherings are allowed but attendees must maintain a distance of one meter from each other, the memorandum also says.

Alternative working arrangements

The executive branch will implement "alternative working arrangements" like remote work and staggered working hours to protect government personnel from the novel coronavirus disease.

Emergency services, including the security sector, will maintain full operations.

The government also urges the private sector to adopt flexible work arrangements and "all manufacturing, retail and service establishments are advised to remain open."

READ: Businesses look for guidance on Metro Manila lockdown

Restrictions on land, sea, and air travel

The capital's railways will remain open although social distancing measures will be enforced to prevent the spread of the virus.

Domestic travel in and out of the capital, whether by air, sea, or land will be restricted.

Workers will be provisionally allowed to move in and out of the capital, although the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease can review and revise that policy as needed.

Departing passengers transiting through Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be allowed through "provided that proof of confirmed international travel itinerary scheduled within 12 hours of entry" is presented at checkpoints.

Travel restrictions—to China, Hong Kong and Macau, and parts of South Korea—remain in place.

Balik-Manggagawa Overseas Filipino Workers will be allowed to deploy to mainland China—except Hubei province—but must execute a declaration that they are aware of the risks involved in going to China.

READ: Duterte says he might seek China’s help on COVID-19 outbreak

"The DOH is hereinafter authorized to grant exemptions, based on humanitarian considerations, in favor of outbound travelers traveling to jurisdictions where travel restrictions are currently in place," the memorandum also reads.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a televised address on Thursday evening, announced a community quarantine on the entire National Capital Region that will take effect on March 15.

The declaration is based on an IATF resolution passed in response to a rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.

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