What are quarantine passes and why are they handed out during Luzon-wide lockdown?

What are quarantine passes and why are they handed out during Luzon-wide lockdown?
A nearly empty road is seen in Manila on March 20, 2020, after the government imposed an enhanced community quarantine against the rising numbers of COVID-19 coronavirus infections.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:35 p.m., March 22) — Since the month-long enhanced community quarantine kicked in, municipalities and cities in Luzon have begun handing out quarantine passes to curb the rising number of new coronavirus cases.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered about half of the country’s population to stay home in a bid to keep people away from one another. Individuals are only allowed to leave their houses to buy food, medicine and other basic necessities.

Different local government units have started issuing community quarantine passes, following the national government’s directive that only one person per household is allowed to go outside to purchase basic necessities and provisions for food.

A quarantine pass designates a household member as the representative of his or her household in procuring necessities. This disallows other family members to buy goods and conduct transactions outside their homes.

But not all community quarantine passes can be used at all times. Some barangyas like Brgy. Niugan in Malabon City said the passes are not applicable during curfew hours from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Quarantine pass holders are also told to bring identification cards when they go out.

In Manila, pass holders should be between 18 and 50 years old. Barangay officials will have to submit the list of family representatives to the city government.

Prone to abuse

While other cities and municipalities have issued quarantine passes, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian said the city will not be implementing such measure as it is not included in the guidelines.

“The exemptions are very clear and provided for naman. It provides for us to be able to go out naman if needed,” Gatchalian said on Twitter.

The issuance of quarantine passes is not included in the guidelines. But barangay captains are instructed to check the compliance of residents.

Gatchalian added that the issuance of quarantine passes is “subject to abuse.”

In a tweet on Sunday, Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto said the city will not be using passes either.

"Upon clarification with the [PNP National Capital Region Police Office] and [Joint Task Force CV Shield]: We do not need Quarantine Passes within Pasig jurisdiction," Sotto said.

"Wag na natin dagdagan ang requirements. Magiging karagdagang person-to-person contact lang ito. Subject to abuse and misuse din ito," he said.

(Let's not add to the requirements. This will just be an additional person-to-person contact. It is also subject to abuse and misuse.)

There were reports that some barangays charge passes for a fee when they should be given out by village officials for free.

The Philippines has so far recorded 380 cases, with 25 deaths

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more the 250,000 people across the globe and killed more than 11,000. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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