In a last-minute backtrack, the Philippines' coronavirus task force retained the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila until September 15, delaying the expected transition of the capital region to a new lockdown system.

"Metro Manila's current risk classification as MECQ shall be maintained until September 15, 2021, or until the pilot [general community quarantine] with alert level system is implemented, whichever comes first," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed on Tuesday, September 7.

"Having said this, indoor and al-fresco dine-in services, and personal care services, including beauty salons, beauty parlors, and nail spas shall remain prohibited," he added.

Religious services only held online are allowed.

In terms of necrological services, Roque said only immediate family members are allowed to attend as the deceased died of non-COVID-19 causes, adding they must show satisfactory proof of their relationship with the deceased and comply with minimum public health standards.

Photo from Unsplash

Metro Manila was supposed to begin on Wednesday, September 8, the implementation of a new community quarantine system – one that's more focused on granular lockdowns instead of wide-scale ones.

Government officials from the interior and health departments have also previously offered clues about the use of four "alert levels" to determine the allowed operating capacity of high-risk business establishments, such as spas, gyms, and restaurants.

Specific guidelines, however, remained unclear as of September 7th, the day of the supposed expiration of the metropolis' MECQ status.

It became apparent on Tuesday afternoon that protocols under the new lockdown system have yet to be finalized after Roque held off an announcement that was supposed to explain "four pages" of guidelines.

He had said the national pandemic task force secretariat was still entertaining more inputs from mayors of the capital region.

Photo from Unsplash

Under granular lockdowns, the local government units only restrict the mobility of residents in a specific building, street, zone, village, and the like where there are high cases of COVID-19.

Other areas under GCQ are:

  • Baguio City

  • Kalinga

  • Abra

  • Benguet

  • Dagupan City

  • City of Santiago

  • Quirino

  • Isabela

  • Nueva Vizcaya

  • Tarlac

  • Occidental Mindoro

  • Puerto Princesa

  • Aklan

  • Guimaras

  • Negros Occidental

  • Cebu City

  • Mandaue City

  • Zamboanga Sibugay

  • Zamboanga City

  • Zamboanga del Norte

  • Misamis Occidental

  • Iligan City

  • Davao Oriental

  • Davao del Sur

  • Gen. Santos City

  • Sultan Kudarat

  • Sarangani

  • North Cotabato

  • South Cotabato

  • Aguan del Norte

  • Agusan del Sur

  • Dinagat Islands

  • Surigao del Norte

  • Surigao del Sur

Meanwhile, 10 areas will be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) including:

  • Apayao

  • Bataan

  • Bulacan

  • Cavite

  • Lucena City

  • Rizal

  • Laguna

  • Iloilo province

  • Iloilo City

  • Cagayan de Oro City

The following areas will be under GCQ “with heightened restrictions”:

  • Ilocos Sur

  • Ilocos Norte

  • Cagayan

  • Pangasinan

  • Quezon

  • Batangas

  • Naga City

  • Antique

  • Bacolod City

  • Capiz

  • Cebu province

  • Lapu-Lapu City

  • Negros Oriental

  • Zamboanga del Sur

  • Misamis Oriental

  • Davao City

  • Davao del Norte

  • Davao del Oro

  • Davao Occidental

  • Butuan City

The rest of the areas in the country will be under the least restrictive modified GCQ, Roque said.

The deferred shift to a new lockdown system in Metro Manila comes as the urban sprawl struggles to contain the threat of the highly infectious Delta variant. Active cases as of Tuesday stood at 158,000.


Source: Inquirer.net, Rappler

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