• Melo Acuna

Luzon Island now under Enhanced Community Quarantine

Community quarantine now all over Luzon

MANILA – To further manage the impact of COVID-19 in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered community quarantine within the main island of Luzon (pop. 57,470,097/2015) effective 12:00 midnight tonight.

The declaration came in the form of a Memorandum from Executive Secretary Salvador S. Medialdea dated today and upon orders of the chief executive.

The Memorandum was based on the increase in number of confirmed COVID-19 cases through the archipelago over the past days. To date, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said there have been 11 deaths and 140 confirmed cases with two recoveries.

Classes and all school activities have been suspended until April 14 and will resume on April 15,2020. The suspension of classes in all levels in Metro Manila has been expanded to Luzon’s six other regions and will resume on April 15.

Mass gatherings will also be prohibited.

In a press briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexie Nograles, who was also designated Inter-Agency Task Force-Emerging Communicable Disease spokesman said strict home quarantine shall be observed in all households and movement shall be limited to accessing basic necessities, provision for food and essential health services which will be regulated. It was learned there will be heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures.

Work from home arrangement will be implemented in offices under the Executive Branch with the exception of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard as well as health and emergency frontline services, border control and other critical services to ensure a skeletal work force.

With most business establishments closed, the government said private establishments providing basic necessities related to food and medicine production toi include public markets, supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, banks, money transfer services, power, energy, water and telecommunications supplies and facilities will remain open.

However, the government will enforce strict skeletal workforce to support operations and all other strict social distancing measures.

Business Process Outsourcing offices, which has remained one of the top dollar earners for the country and export-oriented industries will remain operational subject to the condition that strict social distancing measures are observed and their respective personnel are provided appropriate temporary accommodation arrangements by Wednesday, March 18,

Media personnel are allowed to travel within the quarantine area provided that 72 hours from the effectivity of the Memorandum, on Enhanced Community Quarantine, media personnel intending to travel within the quarantine area shall secure an identification card from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

Transit to and from the establishments mentioned anywhere within the Enhance Community Quarantine will be allowed. Security personnel of the establishments within the quarantine area will be allowed.

Mass public transport will be restricted as outbound passengers hoping to depart the Philippines from any of the international airports in Luzon. Outbound passengers hoping to leave the country from any of the international airports have been given 72 hours to leave immediately after the effectivity of the quarantine.

However, international passengers in transit upon the effectivity of the Enhance Community Quarantine, shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if they come from countries with existing travel restrictions imposed by the task force.

All inbound Filipino citizens including their foreign spouse and children, and holders of Permanent Resident Visa as well as holders of 9(e) Diplomat Visas issued by the Philippine Government will be allowed entry and subjected to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions.

However, the movement of cargoes in the whole island of Luzon shall be allowed as guidelines from the Department of Transportation are being prepared.

Land, air and sea travel of uniformed personnel for official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to COVID-19 and other humanitarian assistance shall be allowed.

Concerned agencies have been instructed to formulate programs, projects and measures for social amelioration of affected workers and residents from areas under the quarantine. The programs include but not limited to moratorium on lease rentals, advancing a pro-rated 13th month pay, reprieve in utility bills and assistance to micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.

Food assistance will also be undertaken by government.

Members of the Inter-Agency Task Force will meet daily to assess the prevailing conditions and institute measures deemed appropriate to help the affected residents. (Melo M. Acuña)

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexie Nograles (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)

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