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

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Restricted movement in mainland Luzon until April 12 due to COVID-19 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 8PM to 5AM.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2; 10:01 p.m.) — Luzon will be on quarantine until April 12, 2020, and employees who do not have "work from home" arrangements will have to stay at home, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a prerecorded message aired on Monday night,.

The message was aired at a public address attended by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

Duterte, the movement of citizens will be "severely limited" under the enhanced community quarantine, while establishments providing basic services would remain open.

"I have come to the conclusion that stricter measures are necessary. For this reason pursuant to my powers as President under the Constitution and Republic Act 11332, I am placing the entire mainland of Luzon under quarantine until April 12, 2020 coinciding with the end of the Holy Week," Duterte said. 

"Everyone will stay at home, leaving their house only to buy food, medicine, and other necessities to survive the coming days."

To "ease the burden felt by the ordinary citizen," the president called on the private sector release the pro-rated 13th Month pay for workers.

Classes, mass transportation suspended

According to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles at a briefing held after Duterte's address, the enhanced quarantine measures will be effective at midnight on March 17, 2020 until midnight of April 13.

Mass public transport facilities shall be suspended, including the LRT-1, LRT-2, MRT-3, buses and jeepneys. Taxis and ride-hailing services are likewise suspended.

Private cars will be allowed but only for certain cases like going out to buy necessities and for people like medical frontliners and government workers on official business.

Land, air and sea travel shall be restricted. Outbound passengers intending to depart via Luzon airports will have 72 hours from the effectivity of the quarantine to leave.

Inbound international passengers, or those in transit upon effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine, shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions imposed by the task force.

All inbound Filipino citizens including their foreign spouse and children, if any, holders of permanent resident visas, and holders of diplomat visas issued by the Philippine government shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions imposed by the task force.
"The movement of cargoes within, to and from the entire Luzon shall be unhampered. For this purpose, guidelines for the accompanying crew or personnel of transiting cargoes shall be formulated by the Department of Transportation," the memorandum read.

Classes shall continue to be suspended until April 14 but education agencies must give students opportunities to meet school requirements.

Similar to the quarantine earlier declared over the National Capital Region, mass gatherings will be prohibited.

Businesses that will remain open

Only private establishments related to food and medicine production like markets, groceries, convenience stores, pharmacies, hospitals, drug stores, water refilling stations, processing plants, banks, money transfer services, power, water and telecommunications supply facilities will remain open.

These will operate with skeletal workforces and will ensure social distancing measures are followed.

"Ang mindset dapat dito is, in case of doubt, stay at home." 

The DSWD will also be releasing food assistance to the most affected residents in Luzon, while the Labor Department was directed to come up with programs for the "social amelioration" of those affected, which include:

  • Moratorium on lease rentals 
  • Advancing on pro-rated 13th month pay 
  • Reprieve in utility bills 
  • Assistance to medium-scale enterprises 

Barangay captains must enforce quarantine

He said barangay captains, or chairpersons, would be the government's first point of contact with citizens and would be responsible for enforcing the home quarantines and for making sure people who need it will get food.

"If there is a barangay captain who does not fulfill his duty in going around to find out how citizens are faring, if you are scared of dying of COVID-19, then you have no business being a government official," he said. 

Earlier that day, the Palace announced that President Rodrigo Duterte was declaring 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.

"What has been in effect was a general quarantine which allows substantial freedom for purposes of work and other essential services," Duterte said.

“If it's possible to work home you may do so.. But if not, you don't have a choice to stay home."

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier Monday assured the public that there would be food available during the enhanced quarantine. "We will not stop the entry of food supply. Markets should also remain open. I think even in Macau, they remained open," Panelo said.

As of this writing, there are currently some 156,000 patients of the new virus around the globe. — with reports from The STAR/Alexis Romero and Agence France-Presse 

This is a developing story and will be updated. 


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