From August 4 to 18, Metro Manila, Laguna, and other nearby provinces were put under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in the area. The MECQ served as a “timeout” for frontliners, especially health workers, who have been working non-stop ever since the pandemic broke out in March.
But today, August 19, all provinces and cities previously under MECQ have reverted back to the general community quarantine (GCQ) scheme, which has relatively looser guidelines. (Read: What is the difference between MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ?)
However, despite the loosened restrictions, the Malacañang said that they will be implementing “new and stricter” guidelines for the public as cases in the country have already breached 169,000 as of writing.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the stricter implementation of the GCQ is at the request of Metro Manila mayors. It comes as the National Capital Region has the highest number of active cases in the entire country. (Read: Celebs Show Support to Health Workers Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases)
“We considered the recommendations of the mayor to actually impose a stricter GCQ because when we consulted the mayors, they were in agreement that it should be GCQ but it should also be a strict type,” Roque said.
Roque adds that under the stricter guidelines, an 8PM to 5AM curfew will be imposed, and local government units will also be allowed to now issue quarantine passes even if the city is only under GCQ. (Read: Travel Guidelines: 3 Things You Need to Know)
As for mass gatherings, it will be once again limited to 10 people, as opposed to the previous guideline of 10% of the full capacity of the venue. Gyms, review centers, tutorial centers, and other similar establishments will also remain closed. Wearing of face shields is likewise required for individuals using public transport such as MRT, LRT, buses, and jeepneys.
More Law Enforcers
According to Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield Commander Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, they will be mobilizing enforcers from the barangay (barangay tanods) to national level to implement stricter GCQ guidelines. Checkpoints will also remain in place to ensure that only those authorized—for work, errands, and those with quarantine passes—will be outside their homes. (Read: 5 Prayers for Safe Travel)
The JTF COVID Shield has also established “Barangay Disiplina Brigades” that will help in monitoring the implementation of said guidelines.
“Itong sinasabi ng city mayors, we will implement this strictly. Meaning kung may batas o may ordinance na pagbabasihan, gagawin natin yan,” Eleazar said.