Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, collectively known as the Greater Manila area, have been put under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the strictest form of lockdown.
The ECQ will start on March 29 and will end on April 4, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said today. Aside from Metro Manila, the ECQ will cover Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, areas where much of the country’s COVID cases originate.
Roque said that the surge which the country has seen was caused by newer and more transmissible COVID-19 variants.
This is the second time that the NCR and surrounding areas have been put under ECQ, the first time being was March 2020. Under this form of lockdown, only health workers, uniformed personnel, and authorized persons outside of residence (APOR) are allowed outside. In the case of APORs, they can only leave their homes to buy essentials.
Other details announced by Roque are:
Mass transportation will continue to operate but at a reduced capacity.
All mass gatherings of more than 10 people will be prohibited, including religious gatherings.
Anyone below 18 and above 65 years old is prohibited from leaving their homes, as well as pregnant persons and those with comorbidities.
Groceries, convenience stores, wet markets, and supermarkets will be open.
A curfew will be imposed from 6pm to 5am.
Simultaneous vaccination of priority groups from A1 (healthcare workers) to A3 (people with comorbidities).
Restaurants will be open but only for take-outs. No dine-in.
The public will be given financial assistance or ayuda, but Roque said details will only be made public on Monday.
There will be checkpoints and a heightened presence of uniformed personnel to ensure the implementation of the lockdown.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision comes after the country recorded 9,595 new COVID cases today, the second-highest since the Philippines started tallying coronavirus cases. The Duterte administration has started vaccinating healthcare workers this month, the last in Southeast Asia to do so. The government has borrowed millions of dollars in loans to fund its inoculation campaign, but as of today, none of the procured vaccines has arrived in the country, and only donated AstraZeneca and CoronaVac dosages are being used.
Last year’s ECQ was a disaster for everyone concerned, leading to the shutdown of thousands of businesses and the unemployment of millions of Filipinos.
Meanwhile, the hashtag #DuterteResign is trending today, as Filipinos on Twitter blame the government for its allegedly poor handling of the pandemic. As of this evening, almost 6,000 tweets using the hashtag have appeared.
This article, Lockdown! Duterte puts Greater Manila area under ECQ from March 29 to April 4, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.