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Duterte places entire Luzon under 'enhanced' community quarantine

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Duterte places entire Luzon under 'enhanced' community quarantine
Members of the Manila Police District Sta. Cruz police station set up a check point along Blumentritt Street in Manila on Sunday night to remind the public of the proper social distancing measure inside passenger jeepneys and the implementation of curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines (5th update at 10:13 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte declared an "enhanced community quarantine" over the entire Luzon including Metro Manila as part of a continuous push to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.

This comes as the latest in a string of measures after Duterte last week approved the hoisting of Code Red Sublevel 2 and placing Metro Manila under community quarantine.

A newly issued memorandum from the Palace on the enhanced quarantine guides government agencies to ensure the following:

  • Prohibition of mass gatherings and imposition of strict home quarantine among all households

"Movement shall be limited to accessing basic necessities, provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated," the memorandum states. "And there will be heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures."

  • Work-from-home arrangement for the executive branch

"Except the [Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard and health and emergency frontline services, border control and other critical services which shall ensure a skeletal workforce."

  • Only essential establishments are to remain open

"Only those private establishments providing basic necessities and such activities related to food and medicine production i.e. public markets, supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, power energy, water and telecommunications supplies and facilities shall be open."

READ: Restricted movement in mainland Luzon until April 12 due to COVID-19 quarantine

Despite the continued operations of the businesses falling under the above categories, they are required to adopt "strict skeletal workforce to support operations" and staff will also observe social distancing measures. Restaurants, meanwhile, are only allowed to deliver food but not open their establishments to dine-in and walk-in customers, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles at a press conference.

Export-oriented industries and business process outsourcing companies can also remain operational provided that they offer temporary accommodations to their personnel and observe social distancing as well.

Media practitioners will also be allowed to travel within the quarantine area as long as they are accredited via the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

  • Suspension of mass public transport facilities

Only private vehicles are allowed if the intention is to secure basic necessities like food and medicines. Only one person per family is allowed to buy essential items.

Employees who would normally take public transportation can be provided with private vehicles by their companies or by the local government unit.

READ: No mass transportation amid 'enhanced community quarantine' in Luzon

  • Restricted land, air and sea travel

Outbound passengers can still push through with travel plans within the next 72 hours since the declaration of the enhanced quarantine, that is until Thursday, March 19.

Inbound passengers who are in transit will still be allowed entry but will be subject to quarantine procedures if coming from countries covered by the travel restrictions.

Inbound Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visas will also still be allowed entry. They should also expect to be subject to quarantine procedures if coming from countries heavily affected by the outbreak.

  • Labor, social welfare, finance, budget and trade departments to come up with programs for affected workers and businesses

"These measures may include, but shall not be limited to, moratorium on lease rentals, advancing a pro-rated thirteenth-month pay, reprieve in utility bills, and assistance to micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises," the memorandum states.

READ: Duterte urges early release of 13th month pay as coronavirus-related job losses loom

The Department of Social Welfare and Development was also tasked to come up with solutions for food assistance to those most affected across Luzon.

Not a 'total lockdown'

What the Cabinet officials proposed earlier on Monday, however, was a total lockdown of Metro Manila which they did not call an enhanced quarantine.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo bared that the proposal would be taken up at the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force behind the administration's response to the worsening virus. 

READ: NCRPO sees smoother implementation of quarantine by next week

"A total lockdown would mean closing of all establishments, it would mean also work or classes are suspended," he explained to reporters at a briefing earlier that morning at Malacañang.

Panelo assured the public that food supply in a lockdown would not be a cause for concern. "We will not stop the entry of food supply. Markets should also remain open. I think even in Macau, they remained open," Panelo said.

The Department of Interior and Local Government last week asked the media to use the term "lockdown" sparingly in their reportage as this word could trigger panic.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya earlier said that a lockdown would mean that people would be confined and not allowed to leave. 

READ: 'Is it a lockdown or a community quarantine?' Your questions about latest move vs COVID-19 answered

“That’s why the word lockdown is usually used with relation to prisoners. So when China declared a lockdown in Wuhan, their citizens are not allowed to leave those cities and the highways were closed. That’s a lockdown,” he said in a statement sent to reporters.

But at Thursday night's address, the President admitted, "Ayaw naming gamitin 'yan. But there is a lockdown."

 

--

If you believe you have come into possible contact with infected patients, you may be directed to the proper office of the Department of Health for advice through the following lines: (632) 8651-7800 local 1149-1150 or (632) 165-364.

You may also opt to call the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine at (02) 8807-2631/ 8807-2632/ 8807-2637.

COMMUNITY QUARANTINE

COVID-19

METRO MANILA LOCKDOWN

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: December 6, 2022 - 3:59pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

December 6, 2022 - 3:59pm

Students have staged a protest against a coronavirus lockdown at a university in eastern China as authorities across the country take baby steps away from their hardline zero-Covid policy.

Millions of people around China still face restrictions, despite some cities rolling back mass testing and curbs on movement following nationwide anti-lockdown protests last week.

Analysts at Japanese firm Nomura on Monday calculated that 53 cities -- home to nearly a third of China's population -- still had some restrictions in place.

China's vast security apparatus has moved swiftly to smother the demonstrations, deploying a heavy police presence while boosting online censorship and surveillance.

But videos published on social media Tuesday and geolocated by AFP show a crowd of students at Nanjing Tech University on Monday night shouting demands to leave the campus.

"Your power is given to you by students, not by yourselves," one person can be heard shouting in the footage. "Serve the students!" -- AFP

December 6, 2022 - 11:09am

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the United States had a stake in China's response to Covid as Beijing eases stringent restrictions following protests.

"We want China to get Covid right. It's profoundly in our interest that that happen," Blinken told an event organized by The Wall Street Journal.

"It's in the interests of the Chinese people first and foremost, but it's also in the interest of people around the world, so we want them to succeed," he said.

He pointed to the "dramatic impact" to the world of slowdowns in China's economy, the world's largest after the United States, triggered by its earlier policy of imposing sweeping lockdowns in response to Covid outbreaks. -- AFP

December 5, 2022 - 12:54pm

Businesses reopened and testing requirements were relaxed in Beijing and other Chinese cities on Monday as the country tentatively eases out of a strict zero-Covid policy that sparked nationwide protests.

Local authorities across China have begun a slow rollback of the restrictions that have governed daily life for years, encouraged by the central government's orders for a new approach to fighting the coronavirus.

In the capital Beijing, where many businesses have fully reopened, commuters from Monday were no longer required to show a negative virus test taken within 48 hours to use public transport.

Financial hub Shanghai -- which underwent a brutal two-month lockdown this year -- was under the same rules, with residents able to enter outdoor venues such as parks and tourist attractions without a recent test.

Neighbouring Hangzhou went a step further, ending regular mass testing for its 10 million people, except for those living in or visiting nursing homes, schools and kindergartens.

In the northwestern city of Urumqi, where a fire that killed 10 people became the catalyst for the recent anti-lockdown protests, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and ski resorts reopened on Monday. -- AFP

December 2, 2022 - 9:05am

China's top COVID-19 official and multiple cities signal a possible relaxing of the country's strict zero-tolerance approach to the virus, after nationwide protests calling for an end to lockdowns and greater political freedom.

Anger over China's zero-COVID policy -- which involves mass lockdowns, constant testing and quarantines even for people who are not infected -- has sparked protests in major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

But while authorities have called for a "crackdown" in the wake of the demonstrations, they have also begun hinting that a relaxation of the hardline virus strategy could be in the works. — AFP

December 1, 2022 - 12:54pm

China's top Covid official signals a possible relaxing of the country's strict zero-tolerance approach to the virus, after nationwide protests calling for an end to lockdowns and greater political freedom.

Anger over China's zero-Covid policy -- which involves mass lockdowns, constant testing and quarantines even for people who are not infected -- has sparked protests in major cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

But while authorities have called for a "crackdown" in the wake of the demonstrations, they have also begun hinting that a relaxation of the hardline virus strategy could be in the works. — AFP

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