The two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila has started on Friday in light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the region.
Motorists passing through borders of the National Capital Region had to patiently wait for their turn as police inspected their documents, resulting in heavy traffic in some checkpoints.
Those without documents proving they were authorized persons outside residence (APOR) were asked to turn back, according to Unang Balita reports. Those caught violating health protocols were issued tickets.
Under ECQ, only APORs will be allowed to leave their homes for work, purchase of essential goods, medical appointments, and other emergencies.
The mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR) again required the use of quarantine passes, which will be given to only one member of every household who will be allowed to go out to buy essential goods.
Every city in Metro Manila will be considered a “tiny bubble” that non-APORs and even consumers of essential goods will be prohibited to cross city or town borders within the region.
“Itong malaking bubble na ito ay magiging parang mga tiny bubble na po 'yan,” Philippine National Police chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar said.
“Yung bawat city sa loob ng Metro Manila magsisilbing isa nang bubble area (Every city within Metro Manila will serve as one bubble area),” he added.
Only essential workers and those with medical appointments and other emergencies may leave Metro Manila as well as pass different towns and cities.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said the ECQ from August 6 to 20 is stricter compared to its previous implementation, calling it a “hard lockdown.”
“Mas mahigpit tayo ngayong ECQ na 'to. Ang tawag nga natin hard lockdown… Kung may makikita diyan [na violator], talagang aarestuhin ng ating mga pulis,” he said.
(The ECQ now will be stricter. We call it a hard lockdown. The police will arrest violators of health protocols)
Violators will be accosted first but will be arrested if they keep on ignoring instructions of authorities. Penalties, based on ordinances of local government units, will be imposed on violators.
The Metro Manila Council, composed of the 17 mayors in the NCR, imposed longer curfew hours of 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. that also covers consumers buying essential goods.
Malacañang said the government will spend P13 billion to fund cash grants for low income Metro Manila residents who will be affected by the restrictions.
Each household will receive P1,000 up to P4,000 of cash assistance.
The stricter measure seeks to address the threat of the more transmissible Delta coronavirus variant.
During the ECQ period, the government targets around four million vaccines to be administered in Metro Manila to get closer to achieving population protection in the region.
The capacity of healthcare facilities such as intensive care units and isolation centers will be improved to accommodate more patients.
Contract tracing and isolation of COVID-19 cases will be boosted during the two-week hard lockdown.
Health experts originally suggested up to four weeks of hard lockdown, but due to its anticipated impact on the economy, Año said the government decided to impose it for two weeks only.
With the NCR under the strictest quarantine classification, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the Philippine economy will lose P105 billion each week.
“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.
“Also increase[s] poor people by up to 177,000 and 444,000 more without jobs,” he added.
Last ECQ ever in NCR?
Malacañang said it is hoping that the August 6 to 20 ECQ is the last one to be imposed in the NCR.
“So ang gusto lang po natin, we hope that this will be our last ever lockdown. Bakit po? Kasi tumataas na iyong numero ng ating pagbabakuna,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
(What we want, we hope this will be our last lockdown because the number of vaccinated people is increasing.)
After the ECQ period, the government will assess the COVID-19 situation to determine if it will be extended or not.—LDF/KBK,GMA News