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CASES RISE TO 111 WITH 8 DEATHS

COVID-19 community quarantine comes into effect over Metro Manila


A community quarantine to counter the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 came into effect over Metro Manila at 12 a.m. Sunday morning, even as COVID-19 cases across the Philippines rose to 111 with eight recorded fatalities.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced the imposition of the quarantine last Thursday after a Code Red Sub-Level 2 was raised over the country.

“It’s just a matter of protecting public interest and public health,” Duterte had said. "Ayaw naming gamitin yan kasi takot sa lockdown, but it’s a lockdown. There is no struggle of power here, it is a matter of protecting and defending you from COVID-19."

With the quarantine in place, travel to and from Metro Manila would be restricted until midnight April 14, 2020.

Uniformed personnel would be deployed along the borders of the National Capital Region for the enforcement of the local travel ban.

On Saturday, Malacañang released the guidelines on how government agencies would implement the stringent social distancing measures and community quarantine in Metro Manila.

Workers would be allowed in and out of Metro Manila as long as they could show their company ID or any proof of employment.

Essential work-related meetings and religious activities could continue so long as strict social distancing was practiced.

The movement of goods to and from Metro Manila would not be affected by the quarantine.

Metro Manila commuter train systems—the Light Rail Transit, Metro Rail Transit, and Philippine National Railways—would remain operational for public use but would implement "social distancing" measures.

However, mass gatherings were "prohibited," with Metro Manila local government units set to enforce an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew by Monday - March 16.

Those coming to and from abroad via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila would be allowed entry "subject to travel restrictions" that were currently in place.

Filipino citizens, their foreign spouses, children, and holders of permanent resident and diplomatic visas who were arriving from abroad would have to follow certain quarantine measures as they enter the country.

Foreign nationals flying back to their country of origin would be allowed to do so.

Gov't services

Meanwhile, all classes in Metro Manila would be suspended until April 14, 2020, with teachers not required to be present in schools unless otherwise directed by division superintendents.

Work at the executive branch of government was suspended but a skeletal workforce would be put in place to ensure that the delivery of public services was not be compromised.

While it would be "business as usual" at the Senate, the House of Representatives would suspend work up to April 12.

Meanwhile, all court hearings were suspended from March 13 to 18, according to the Supreme Court.

Bank and stock market operations would continue during the community quarantine period.

ATMs would be regularly replenished, with cash withdrawals available to customers.

Enforcement

At 12 a.m. on Sunday, enforcement of the border control points around Metro Manila was erratic at best.

While at the San Pedro, Laguna-Muntinlupa control point there was a complete absence of law enforcement officers and barriers, the control point in Payatas' Barangay Silangan and San Mateo had some 40 police officers pulling vehicles over.

However, as was the case at the Meycuayan, Bulacan-Valenzuela control point, police officers appeared to be operating as a security presence rather than border control officers.

At the Pasig City-Cainta border, vehicles were being pulled over and the temperatures of travelers were being checked. Certificates of employment were also being presented by some travelers, while others merely confirmed that they were residents over the border. — DVM/MDM, GMA News

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