Task force to put Metro Manila, Laguna under MECQ until August 31

Task force to put Metro Manila, Laguna under MECQ until August 31
Residents collect free food packets from a food bank run by volunteers called a "community pantry" along a road in Quezon City suburban Manila on April 21, 2021.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2,  10:45 p.m.) — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has approved placing Metro Manila and Laguna under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine from August 21 to 31, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announces.

The task force has also approved putting the province of Bataan under MECQ from August 23 to the end of the month.

Roque says local governments may still impose "the strict implementation of granular lockdowns", or lockdowns covering smaller areas within a city or town.

"In addition, local government units of the aforementioned areas are directed to improve their vaccination rates, Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategies, and observance and compliance to minimum public health standards," he also says.

Dine-in services and personal care services like beauty salons and barbershops will not be available while the National Capitol Region, Laguna and Bataan are under MECQ.

Religious gatherings will also have to be held remotely in these areas.

The IATF recommends quarantine classifications and other pandemic-response policies to President Rodrigo Duterte, who often approves them. 

What is MECQ again?

According to the IATF guidelines, MECQ is a transition phase between the strictest Enhanced Community Quarantine and the laxer General Community Quarantine. During ECQ, the task force says, "the following temporary measures are relaxed and become less necessary: stringent limits on movement and transportation of people, strict regulation of operating industries, provision of food and essential services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols."

Establishments and industries allowed to operate during ECQ "shall be allowed to operate at full on-site capacity" under MECQ while most other businesses will be "allowed to operate at fifty percent (50%) on-site capacity."

Work-form-home and other flexible work arrangements are encouraged where applicable.

During MECQ, movement is still limited to essential trips and people are supposed to stay at home. Under IATF guidelines, "individual outdoor exercises such as outdoor walks, jogging, running or biking, are allowed within the general area of their residence" but public health standards like wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing must be observed.

Generally, gatherings "outside of residences shall be prohibited [and] gatherings at residences with any person outside of one’s immediate household shall likewise be prohibited."

The National Capital Region was placed under ECQ from August 6-20 to address rising cases of COVID-19 and to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. 

On Thursday, the Department of Health announced 14,895 new COVID-19 cases. This was the highest single-day increase since April 2021.



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