President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the enhanced community quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and CALABARZON until May 15.
Duterte's decision was announced by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a televised briefing aired Friday morning.
Duterte also accepted the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to extend until May 15 the ECQ in similarly high-risk areas Benguet, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Albay and Catanduanes.
For four provinces -- Tarlac, Benguet, Pangasinan, and Zambales -- the quarantine status may change by April 30, according to Roque.
Duterte also placed some areas in Visayas and Mindanao under ECQ but subject to reassessment: Antique, Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Cebu, Cebu City, Davao del Norte, Davao City and Davao de Oro.
Roque said regions, provinces or areas which are considered moderate- and low-risk in the spread of COVID-19 will be placed under a general community quarantine starting on May 1. These are: Abra, Ilocos Norte La Union, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Marinduque, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Samar, Western Samar, Zamboanga Del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Maguindanao
Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Sur, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga, Ilocos Sur, Batanes, Quirino, Aurora, Palawan, Romblon, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate, Guimaras, Bohol, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Davao Occidental, Sarangani, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Basilan, Sulu.
For areas placed under general community quarantine, the following will be observed:
- workers and sectors in category I, II and III may continue to work or operate in phases;
- the general population may go out of their homes only for purposes of accessing basic necessities;
- in any case, those with ages below 21 years old and those 60 years old and above as well as those with ages ranging from 21 years old but below 60 years old but who reside with co-morbidities or other risk factors shall stay home;
- non-leisure stores in malls and shopping centers may partially open;
- higher education institutions may continue classes to finish the academic year and issue credentials to students in accordance with guidelines as may be issued by the Commission on Higher Education;
- priority and essential construction projects may resume in accordance with guidelines as may be issued by the DPWH;
- public transportation may operate at a reduced capacity in accordace with guidelines as may be issued by the DOTr;
- local government units shall enforce curfew at night for non-workers; and
- airports and seaports may operate insofar as the unhampered movement of goods.
Areas under ECQ would undergo evaluation if the restrictions can be relaxed starting May 16, the government said.
According to Roque, a “minimum health standard” for areas under ECQ will be implemented starting April 27.
The Department of Health, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will prepare the guidelines by April 25.
The President’s move came after he consulted with government officials, medical experts and former Health secretaries this week regarding possible measures to be implemented after April 30, or more than a month after the Luzon-wide quarantine started.
Duterte imposed last month strict confinement measures in Luzon to contain the spread of the virus, including sweeping restrictions on travel and mass gatherings, and the closure of schools and non-essential businesses.
He asked the people to stay home even as he told the military and police to prepare for a stricter enforcement of quarantine rules.
The President also directed Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua to focus on crafting the Philippine recovery plan.
The Luzon-wide quarantine was originally scheduled to end on April 13 but Duterte extended it until April 30. -- NB/KBK, GMA News