September 2021 MECQ guidelines: What to expect in NCR, Laguna and Bataan

September 2021 MECQ guidelines: What to expect in NCR, Laguna and Bataan
Residents wait for their turn to get a shot of Sinovac vaccine at the cinema area of a mall in Antipolo City on Aug. 24, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2: Aug. 28, 2021, 12:58 p.m.) — Metro Manila, Laguna and Bataan will remain under modified enhanced community quarantine until September 7, Malacañang anounced, as the country faces its worst surge in coronavirus cases driven by the more contagious Delta variant.

Metro Manila and Laguna have been under MECQ since August 21, while Bataan has been under the same quarantine regime until the end of the month.

Aside from these three areas, 13 other areas will also be under MECQ until September 7, but with laxer restrictions on dining, personal care services and religious activities.



A full copy of updated IATF community quarantine guidelines may be accessed here, but here is a quick refresher for MECQ protocols:

Are quarantine passes need?

For the National Capital Region, Metro Manila Council chairman Edwin Olivarez, also mayor of Parañaque, said they will no longer implement quarantine passes, which was required in some localities during ECQ period.

But the IATF stressed that movement is limited to accessing goods and services from permitted establishments, for work in such establishments and for other activities allowed under this period.

Will there be curfews and liquor ban?

Olivarez has said that the curfew in Metro Manila remains at 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Imposing a liquor ban, meanwhile, will be up to each LGU.

Who should stay at home?

Those below 18 years old and over 65, with immunodeficiency, comorbidity and other health risks and pregnant women must stay at home, except when obtaining essential goods and services, or for work in industries and offices or activities allowed during the period.

Local governments, however, may relax the minimum age range down to 15 years old, depending on COVID-19 situation in their locality.

Are gatherings allowed?

Gatherings outside residences and in residence with persons outside the immediate household are still banned. Exempted from this are gatherings for provision of health or government services, or humanitarian activities authorized by government agency or instrumentality.

Will I be able to dine in?

In Metro Manila, Laguna and Bataan, indoor and al fresco dine in services are not allowed.

Can I go to beauty salons or spas?

During MECQ period of Metro Manila, Laguna and Bataan, “personal care services including beauty salons, beauty parlors, barbershops and nail spas shall not be allowed.”

Will religious gatherings be allowed? How about wakes?

In MECQ areas, religious gatherings are allowed up to 10% of venue capacity, so long as the LGU where it is held will take place.

But for Metro Manila, Laguna and Bataan, religious gatherings will remain virtual until September 7.

Will there be public transport?

Yes. The Department of Transportation said public utility buses and jeepneys are allowed to operate at 50% maximum capacity on a “one-seat apart” rule.

Motorcycle taxi services and Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) shall also continue operating. For tricycles, only one passenger is allowed, as allowed by LGUs.

Services of the Philippine National Railways, LRT-1, LRT-2 and MRT-2 shall also continue.

Meanwhile, domestic and sea travel in Metro Manila shall also continue during MECQ, subject to restrictions of passenger’s destination.

Will courts be open?

The Supreme Court and its offices shall be physically open starting August 23 and will operate on up to 25% on-site capacity. Court filings, however, must be done through registered mail or services of accredited private couriers or electronic mail, except for “exceptionally urgent matters” and only after approval from concerned Office is obtained.

All other courts in Metro Manila, however, shall remain physically closed but operations will continue online. They may be reached through their hotlines and email addresses posted on the SC website.

What establishments will remain operational?

Establishments, persons and activities allowed to work or operate during ECQ will still be allowed under MECQ. A list of these is included in this earlier refresher.

All others that were not permitted to operate, work or be undertaken during ECQ can resume operations during MECQ at 50% on-site capacity, while work-from-home and flexible arrangements are encouraged.

“Notwithstanding the foregoing, and without prejudice to the authority of the [Department of Trade and Industry] to issue a negative list of industries which shall remain prohibited even in areas under MECQ,” the following shall not be permitted to work or operate under MECQ:

  • Entertainment venues with live performers such as karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, theaters, and cinemas
  • Recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues
  • Amusement parks or theme parks, fairs/peryas, kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom and kiddie rides
  • Outdoors sports courts or venues for contact sports, scrimmages, games or activities
  • Indoor sports courts or venues, fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centers or facilities, and swimming pools
  • Casinos, horse racing**, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops***, and other gaming establishments except for the draws conducted by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office
  • Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, libraries, archives, museums, galleries and cultural shows and exhibits
  • Outdoor tourist attractions
  • Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions
  • Personal care services* which include beauty salons, beauty parlors, medical aesthetic clinics, cosmetic or derma clinics, make-up salons, nail spas, reflexology, aesthetics, wellness, and holistic centers, and other similar establishments; acupuncture and electrocautery establishments, and massage therapy including sports therapy establishments. It also includes establishments providing tanning services, body piercings, tattooing, and similar services. Home services for these activities are likewise not permitted.
  • Indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as commissaries, restaurants and eateries*.

*inclusion in the negative list of industries not allowed to operate suspended pursuant to IATF Resolution No. 113 s.2021, issued on April 29, 2021. Per IATF Resolution No. 134, s.2021, issued August 19, 2021, personal care services and indoor and al fresco dining shall not be allowed to operate in NCR, Laguna and Bataan until August 31.

**inclusion in the negative list of industries not allowed to operate suspended pursuant to IATF resolution No. 114 s.2021 issued on May 6, 2021. May operate only on a no-audience set-up.

***inclusion in the negative list of industries not allowed to operate suspended pursuant to IATF Resolution No. 115 s.2021 issued on May 13.

Government agencies and instrumentalities will also be fully operational, but with a skeleton work-force on-site and the remainder of the workforce under alternative work arrangements.

Can I do outdoor exercises?

Individual outdoor exercises like outdoor walking, jogging, running or biking are permitted within the barangay, purok, subdivision or village. But minimum public health standards and precautions, such as wearing of face masks and physical distancing, must be observed.

In Metro Manila, outdoor exercises will be allowed starting August 21, but only from 6:00 to 9:00 in the morning only.

Can I register to vote?

The Commission on Elections in an earlier resolution said voter registration can only resume in areas that transition to general community quarantine or modified GCQ.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez reiterated this earlier. He also disclosed that the poll body rejected calls to move the deadline for voter registration beyond September 30. It has, instead, approved longer hours and added Saturday and holidays for sign-ups until end of September.

Kristine Joy Patag with report from Xave Gregorio; Infographic by Rhovin Manlaqui


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