Metro Manila under 30-day ‘community quarantine’ amid COVID-19 outbreak

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (March 12) placed Metro Manila under a 30-day “community quarantine” after raising the country’s COVID-19 alert system to Code Red Sublevel 2.

Duterte approved a resolution drafted by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) which specifies stringent social distancing measures including a month-long school suspension, prohibition of mass gatherings and domestic travel bans among others.

“Do not panic. Huwag kayong masyadong ma-stress na parang hindi mo na magawa ang gusto mong gawin. Pwede pa rin pero may restrictions tayo, may mga kondisyon dahil nga sa crisis,” said the President.

He has also suspended work in the Executive Branch but will maintain a skeletal workforce to continue delivery of services. The Congress, the Judiciary and law enforcement agencies are encouraged to do the same.

Duterte encouraged private companies to come up with flexible work arrangements that adhere to the guidelines of the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry.

He added that mass public transports, such as the Light Rail Transits, the Metro Rail Transits, and the Philippine National Railway shall continue in operation, following guidelines by the Department of Transportation intended to ensure social distancing.

Domestic travel via land, air and sea to and from Metro Manila will be suspended starting at 12 midnight of March 15 but subject to daily review by the IATF.

Duterte said Balik Mangagawa OFWs shall be allowed to travel to mainland China, except to Hubei Province, the epicenter of the virus outbreak. They also have to execute a declaration signifying their knowledge of the risks involved.

Entry travel restrictions shall be imposed upon those traveling from countries with localized COVID-19 transmissions, except for Filipino citizens including their foreign spouse and children, if any, holders of permanent resident visa, and holders of diplomatic visas issued by the Philippine Government.

Duterte assured that the purpose of the government is to protect its citizens and maintain order.

“The purpose of government is see to it that things are in order […]  so sumunod lang tayo at hinihingi ko sa inyo kaunting pasensiya lang. It’s for your own good,” said the Chief Executive.

“So let’s help each other at this time of our life because everything is placed in jeopardy. Delikado talaga. Totoo ito, crisis talaga ito kasi walang gamot,” Duterte said.

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