Malacañang releases guidelines on social distancing measures against COVID-19

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines – A day before Metro Manila’s community quarantine policy takes effect, Malacañang released a more detailed guidelines on social distancing measures based on the resolution submitted by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to halt the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

President Rodrigo Duterte through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued a memorandum addressed to all government department and agencies, government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs), financial institutions, state universities and colleges, and local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila.

The memorandum states that these are “emergency but temporary directives and guidelines which are primarily intended to address the spread of COVID-19 in the country.”

The stringent social distancing measures imposed in the National Capital Region (NCR), effective March 15, 2020 until April 14, 2020, are as follows:

  • Recreational mass gatherings (movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment activities) are not allowed.
  • Essential work-related meetings and religious activities may continue provided that strict social distancing measure is observed, at least one meter between attendees.
  • Local Government Units (LGUs) may decide on the imposition of general community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions under directions from DOH and DILG.
  • Movement of people to access basic necessities and work is limited.
  • High visibility of AFP and PNP personnel, quarantine officers at border points is expected.

Conditions on entry to areas under general community quarantine:

  • Non-essential ENTRY to the contained area is restricted especially to high-risk individuals (senior citizens, persons with vulnerable immune system and pregnant women).
    • Exemptions apply for health workers, authorized government officials, those travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons, persons transiting to airports for travel abroad, persons providing basic services and public utilities, and essential skeletal workforce;
  • Non-essential EXIT of people out of the contained area is restricted.
    • Exemptions apply to the health workers, authorized government officials, those travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons, and those who were granted entry based on the above-mentioned provisions, provided that all persons leaving the contained community must be checked for signs and symptoms. Before exit, they will be provided with appropriate certification from health authority, proper endorsement to the receiving LGU, intention to undertake 14-day home based quarantine under closed monitoring of the receiving LGU.
  • On the restriction on land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila:
    • All workers (employed or self-employed) are provisionally allowed to travel provided that they present proof of employment and/or business at border checkpoints.
    • All departing passengers shall be allowed transit through the NCR provided they present proof of confirmed international travel itinerary scheduled within 12 hours from entry at border checkpoints.
  • Outbound travel to countries where travel restrictions are in place remains prohibited.
    • Travel restrictions to and from China, Macau, Hong Kong and several areas in South Korea remains in place.
    • Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouse and children, Permanent Resident Visa holders and diplomats from Iran and Italy are allowed entry but to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within 48 hours immediately preceding departure signifying that they have tested negative for COVID-19.
    • Outbound travelers who wish to travel to jurisdictions where restrictions are currently in place may be granted exemptions by the DOH based on humanitarian considerations.
  • The movement of cargoes shall be unhampered, regardless of origin or destination.
  • Suspension of classes and school activities in all levels in Metro Manila remains extended until April 14, 2020.

Panelo said: “The Palace reiterates that all measures imposed are subject to the regular review by the President and the IATF in order to ensure that the virus would be contained and ultimately eliminated without extremely overwhelming the citizens in going about their daily lives.”

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