In the past few days, we have seen and heard the alarming rise in the number of daily COVID-19 cases in the country. The three highest recorded numbers since the pandemic started were announced just last week, reaching almost 8,000 new cases in a day.
That’s why yesterday, March 21, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced that Metro Manila and four other provinces (Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal) will be on a ‘heightened’ general community quarantine (GCQ) for the next two weeks. The four provinces were previously under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ). (Read: What is the difference between MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ?)
With the GCQ comes added restrictions for the public to help curb the spread of the virus, which has been quite rapid in recent days. Here are some of the protocols announced by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Sunday, March 21.
GCQ Guidelines: Only Essential Travel Is Allowed
Before the announcement of the new restrictions, people were able to move more freely around the city and nearby provinces— evident in the number of people who have already gone on long-awaited vacations and road trips. However, with the surge of cases and the heightened GCQ, travel will once again be limited to essential travel. The five areas under this GCQ will be in a ‘bubble,’ according to Roque.
The bubble means that people are not allowed to travel to and from the areas inside it. Only authorized persons outside residence (APORs) like essential workers, government officials, and frontliners will be allowed to go in and out of the bubble. Those going home to their provinces inside the bubble will also be considered essential, as long as they can provide proof of residence.
GCQ Guidelines: No Dine-in for Restaurants
Dine-in transactions for restaurants and other food establishments will also be suspended for the two-week period to prevent staying outside without masks. Only take-out, delivery, and al fresco dining (or open-air dining) will be allowed for the time being. (Read: Meet the First Three Individuals to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine in the PH)
GCQ Guidelines: Gatherings Are Limited to 10 People
While gatherings, in general, are discouraged, the task force has allowed the holding of weddings, baptisms, and funerals. However, with the increase in cases, the number of guests allowed in these gatherings will go back to 10 individuals. This also goes without saying that all 10 individuals will have to wear masks and face shields and practice social distancing during the event.
The uniform curfew— 10 PM to 5 AM— will also be kept in place; public transportation will continue to operate.