Metro Manila will be placed under the strictest enhanced community quarantine classification from August 6 to 20 in light of the threat posed by the Delta coronavirus variant, Malacañang announced on Friday.
"Mapait na desisyon ito pero ito ay para sa kabutihan ng lahat [This is a painful decision but it is for the good of the people]," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
From July 31 to August 5, however, the region will be under general community quarantine "subject to heightened and additional restrictions," said Roque.
"No need for panic buying because we have one week to prepare," he said.
Guidelines regarding cash aid to affected residents and public transportation, meanwhile, will follow, Roque said in a Super Radyo dzBB interview.
Under ECQ only essential trips and services are allowed, while GCQ with heightened restrictions and additional restrictions protocol bans indoor and al fresco dining.
Billions to be lost
Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Friday the Philippine economy will lose hundreds of billions of pesos while hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake for each week that Metro Manila - the country’s economic center - is under the strictest quarantine classification.
“Each week of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) in NCR (National Capital Region) will cost the economy P105 billion,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said, citing latest estimates from the NEDA.
“Also increase[s] poor people by up to 177,000 and 444,000 more without jobs,” Chua said.
The decision was reached after the Metro Manila Council, which is composed of Metro Manila mayors, met with the government inter-agency COVID-19 task force to appeal for the imposition of stricter measures in the region.
According to independent group OCTA Research, Metro Manila could possibly see as many as 2,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by next week.
Currently, the National Capital Region is averaging almost 1,100 new cases per day. OCTA said the reproduction rate of the virus in Metro Manila has climbed to 1.35, indicating sustained COVID-19 transmission.
OCTA has led calls for a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown to arrest the spread of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant.
Metro Manila, the center of the country's economy, was previously placed under ECQ twice since COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in March 2020:
- March 16 to May 14, 2020 and
- March 29 to April 11, 2021
Under existing government policy, the government will have to grant cash aid to residents of affected areas of ECQ protocol ranging from P4,000 to P8,000 per household.
Roque also earlier said the government has no budget for cash aid for the implementation of an ECQ protocol in Metro Manila, but said the government will look for fund sources if necessary. — KBK/RSJ, GMA News