Refresher: Guidelines for MECQ reimposed on Metro Manila, nearby provinces

Manila landscape
Undated photo shows a landscape of Manila City
Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

(Updated 3:37 p.m.) Following calls of health workers for a timeout after a spike in COVID-19 cases to more than 100,000, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the Department of Health's proposal to reintroduce a more rigid lockdown in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite and Bulacan from August 4 till August 18.

Here are the guidelines for an modified enhanced community quarantine, or MECQ, which is the second strictest form of lockdown by the Philippine government. The guidelines were first released in May and updated on July 16.


Personal mobility

1. Minimum public health standards shall be complied with at all times for the duration of the MECQ.

2. Strict home quarantine shall be observed in all households, and the movement of all residents shall still be limited to accessing essential goods and services, and for work in permitted offices or establishments or such other activities listed hereunder.

3. Any person below twenty-one (21) years old, those who are sixty (60) years old and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women, including any person who resides with the aforementioned, shall be required to remain in their residences at all times, except when indispensable under the circumstances for obtaining essential goods and services, for work in industries and offices or such other activities permitted in this Section.

Allowed industries, establishments and offices: Full operational capacity

4. The following shall be allowed to operate at full operational capacity: Omnibus Guidelines on Community Quarantine with Amendments as of July 16, 2020:

a. All establishments, persons, or activities permitted to operate, work, or be undertaken under Section 2(4) of these Guidelines;
b. Media establishments, without need of PCOO accreditation;   
c. BPOs and export-oriented establishments, without need to set up onsite or near-site accommodation arrangements;
d. E-commerce companies;
e. Other postal and courier services, as well as delivery services for articles or products not mentioned under Section 2 of these Omnibus Guidelines;   
f. Rental and leasing, other than real estate, such as vehicles and equipment for permitted sectors;
g. Employment activities that involve the recruitment and placement for permitted sectors; and
h. Housing services activities, such as but not limited to plumbing, roofing, and electrical works.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also announced at a regular press briefing on Monday, August 3, that the following industries are included among those allowed to operate under MECQ:

  • Agriculture
  • Forestry and fisheries
  • Manufacturing of essential goods
  • Essential retail such as supermarkets, markets, convenience stores and drug stores
  • Food preparation for take-out and delivery services
  • Water refilling stations
  • Laundry services
  • Public and private hospitals
  • Logistics service providers
  • Delivery and courier services
  • Water supply and sanitation
  • Repair and maintenance of machinery and equipments
  • Telecommunications
  • Energy and power
  • Gasoline stations
  • Airline and airline maintenance
  • Pilots and crew and employees of aviation schools for purposes
  • Private and public construction services that are essential
  • Manufacturing companies and suppliers of equipment or products necessary to perform construction such as cement and steel
  • BPO and export-oriented companies including mining and quarrying
  • Printing presses authorized by the BIR or other appropriate agencies to print receipts

Industries, establishments and offices: 50% operational capacity

5. The following offices, establishments or individuals conducting or providing the following activities or services are allowed to operate at fifty percent (50%) operational capacity, while encouraging work-from-home and other flexible work arrangements, where applicable:

a. Other manufacturing industries classified as beverages, including alcoholic drinks; electrical machinery; wood products and furniture; non-metallic products; textiles and clothing/wearing apparels; tobacco products; paper and paper products; rubber and plastic products; coke and refined petroleum products; other non-metallic mineral products; computers, electronic and optical products; electrical equipment; machinery and equipment; motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers; other transport equipment; and others;

b. Other real estate activities;

c. Administrative and office support such as, but not limited to, providing photocopying and billing services;

d. Other financial services not mentioned in Section 2 of these Omnibus Guidelines, such as, money exchange, insurance, reinsurance and non-compulsory pension funding;

e. Legal and accounting services;

f. Management consultancy services or activities;

g. Architectural and engineering activities, including technical testing and analysis; Science and technology, and research and development;

h. Recruitment and placement agencies for overseas employment.

i. Advertising and market research;

j. Computer programming and information management services; Publishing and printing services;

k. Film, music and television production;

l. Photography, fashion, and industrial, graphic and interior design; Wholesale and retail trade of vehicles and their parts and components; Repair and maintenance of vehicles as well as its parts or components, including car wash services;

m. Malls and commercial centers, subject to the guidelines issued by the DTT, Dining establishments and restaurants, but for delivery and take-out only; Hardware stores;

n. Clothing and accessories;

o. Bookstore and school and office supplies;

p. Baby or infant care supplies;

q. Pet food and pet care supplies;

r. Information technology, communications and electronic equipment; Flower, jewelry, novelty, antique and perfume shops; and Toy stores, Provided, that their playgrounds and amusement areas, if any, shall remain closed;

aa. Firearms and ammunition trading establishments, subject to strict regulation of the PNP-Firearms and Explosives Office; and

bb. Pastors, priests, rabbi, imams, and other religious ministers insofar as providing home religious services to households. Provided that proper protocols shall be observed, such as social distancing, wearing of face masks and the like.

Industries, establishments and offices: Skeletal workforce

6. Agencies and instrumentalities of the government, including GOCCs, as well as LGUs may operate with a skeleton workforce in combination with other alternative work arrangements as approved by the head of agency unless a different operational capacity is required in agencies providing health and emergency frontline services, border control, and other critical services.

7. Accredited diplomatic missions and international organizations shall be advised to operate under a skeleton workforce, without prejudice to alternative work arrangements as the said missions or organizations may deem proper.

Industries, establishments and offices: Limited operations and exemptions

8. Hotels or accommodation establishments shall not be allowed to operate, except those accommodating the following:

  1. For guests who have existing booking accommodations for foreigners as of 17 March 2020 for Luzon and 01 May 2020 for other areas;
  2. Guests who have existing long-term bookings;
  3. Distressed OFWs and stranded Filipinos or foreign nationals;
  4. Repatriated OFWs in compliance with approved quarantine protocols; Omnibus Guidelines on Community Quarantine with Amendments as of July 16, 2020.
  5. Non-OFWs who may be required to undergo mandatory facility-based quarantine; and
  6. Health care workers and other employees, whether private or public, from exempted establishments under these Omnibus Guidelines and applicable Memoranda from the Executive Secretary.

Provided that accommodation establishments may operate only upon the issuance of a Certificate of Authority to operate by the DOT; Provided further, that in all of the foregoing, hotel operations shall be limited to the provision of basic accommodation services to guests through an in-house skeleton workforce Ancillary establishments within the premises, such as restaurants, cafés, bars, gyms, spas, and the like, shall not be allowed to operate or to provide room service; Provided finally, that accommodation establishments may prepare: (a) packed meals for distribution to guests who opt for the same; and (b) food orders for take-out and delivery only. (As amended by Paragraph A(2) of IATF Resolution No. 43, June 03, 2020)

9. Mass gatherings such as but not limited to, movie screenings, concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work gatherings shall be prohibited.

Gatherings that are for the provision of critical government services and authorized humanitarian activities while adhering to the prescribed minimum health standards shall be allowed. Religious gatherings shall be limited to not more than five (5) persons until otherwise modified through subsequent issuances of the IATF.

10. Face-to-face or in-person classes at all levels shall be suspended.

11. Public transportation shall be suspended. This notwithstanding, commissioned shuttle services for employees of permitted offices or establishments, as well as point-to-point transport services provided by the government shall be allowed to operate, giving priority to healthcare workers.

12. Private transportation such as company shuttles and personal vehicles utilized by persons authorized outside their residences are allowed subject to the guidelines provided by DOTr. The use of bikes and other non-motorized transportation is strongly encouraged.

LIST: Modes of transportation allowed and prohibited in areas under MECQ

13. Limited operations in malls and shopping centers shall be allowed, except for leisure establishments and services which shall continue to be closed. Provided, that establishments and services allowed to operate in malls and shopping centers may only operate at a capacity consistent with items (4) and (5) of this Section.

Provided, further, those below twenty-one (21) years old, and those sixty (60) years old and above and those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women including any person who resides with the aforementioned, may not enter malls and shopping centers except when indispensable under the circumstances for obtaining essential goods and services or for work in establishments located therein. Provided, finally, that such operations must comply with the guidelines of the DTI until otherwise modified through subsequent issuances of the IATF.

14. In addition to those allowed and enumerated construction projects under Section 2 of these Guidelines, other essential and priority public and private construction projects shall be allowed, subject to compliance with the DPWH construction safety guidelines: Provided, however, that small scale-projects as defined by the DPWH shall not be allowed.

Not allowed to operate

15. The following shall not be allowed to operate within an area under MECQ:

a. Tourist destinations such as water parks, reservation service and related services
b. Entertainment industries such as cinemas, theaters, and karaoke bars;
c. Kid amusement industries such as playroom and kiddy rides; d. Libraries, archives, museums and cultural centers;
e. Gyms, fitness studios and sports facilities; and
f. Personal care services such as massage parlors, sauna, facial care and waxing.

Other exemptions

16. The provisions relative to processing of payrolls, the RapidPass system, use of government owned or hired vehicles and identification cards for humanitarian assistance actors and public and private employees in areas under ECQ shall likewise apply in areas under MECQ.

17. Individual outdoor exercise such as outdoor walks, jogging, running or biking are allowed within MECQ areas. Provided, that the minimum health standards and precautions such as the wearing of masks and the maintenance of social distancing protocols are observed.

18. Other exemptions from the ECQ through previous IATF resolutions or issuances by the Office of the President shall also be applied in MECQ.

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