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Frontliners too: 'Healthy' farmers, fishers exempted from quarantine restrictions

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Frontliners too: 'Healthy' farmers, fishers exempted from quarantine restrictions
File photo shows a farmer harvesting palay.
The STAR / Andy Zapata, File

MANILA, Philippines — Farmers and fishermen are now exempted from the enhanced community quarantine of all households in Luzon aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus in the country.

Most of Luzon has been told to stay at home except for those in essential businesses and those going out to buy medicine and food. The measure is meant to help keep COVID-19 from spreading as hospitals fill up with cases.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced on Wednesday that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease approved the request of the Department of Agriculture to allow all farming and fishing activities to continue.

All “healthy” farmers, fishermen and agribusiness workers are exempted from the strict home quarantine policy imposed by the government starting last Monday until April 12.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar earlier asked local government units to ensure free movement of a skeleton workforce of agricultural workers to continue food production for 105 million Filipinos.

Agriculture workers had, until then, been prevented from crossing checkpoints while the enhanced community quarantine is implemented over Luzon.

“The threat of hunger is as real as the threat of COVID-19 virus. Even those who survive this virus will have to face the following: lack of food and non-existent food production and producers,” Dar said.

He added: “Food does not appear like magic. It is sourced from various raw materials, which are produced by the hardworking farmers and farm workers.”

DA said it is also suspending collections on payments of farmers’ loans for one year as the enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19 is expected to affect their incomes.

The multi-agency panel also allowed agricultural supplies stores and veterinary clinics to operate.

The Philippines has reported 552 cases of COVID-19, with the death toll rising to 35. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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