MANILA, Philippines The government has approved additional measures aimed at containing COVID-19, including raising the age limit of persons who may step out of their homes in Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) and General Community Quarantine (GCQ) areas.
The new safety measures are contained in the amended omnibus community quarantine guidelines adopted by the government's pandemic task force last April 3.
Under the updated guidelines for MECQ and GCQ areas, any person below 18 years old and those who are over 65, those with health risks, and pregnant women shall be required to remain in their residences at all times, except when obtaining essential goods and services, or reporting for work in allowed industries and offices.
Previously, those below 15 years old were covered by the requirement to stay home.
Under the MECQ, the second strictest quarantine classification, only selected industries are allowed to operate. It is slightly more lenient than the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), where only the establishments offering essential goods and services remain open. Meanwhile, about half of businesses can operate in the more relaxed general community quarantine.
Santiago City in Isabela will be under MECQ for the entire month of April. Quirino Province will also be under the same quarantine classification until April 15.
The entire Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Batangas in Luzon; Tacloban City for the Visayas; and Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur in Mindanao will be under GCQ this month.
The rest of the country will be placed under the most lenient modified general community quarantine for the month of April. Metro Manila, Laguna, Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal will be under ECQ until April 11 unless extended by the government.
The task force also updated the guidelines related to work spaces in areas under ECQ.
Establishments, persons, or activities are allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken with full on-site capacity if they belong to health, emergency, and frontline services, health maintenance organizations, health insurance providers, disaster risk reduction management officers, and public safety officers and the like; essential retail trade and service establishments like hardware, office supplies, and bicycle shops; and public transport providers and operators.
Sectors that are allowed to operate on a skeleton on-site capacity are janitorial or sanitation services and facilities; establishments engaged in repair and maintenance of machinery and equipment, for households and essential permitted establishments; and establishments engaged in repair and maintenance of motorized and non-motorized vehicles, including the sale of spare parts; teachers, professors and other staff who are conducting online, offline, or flexible classes, completing grades, and processing student credentials, requirements and documents; and lawyers who provide legal representation necessary to protect the rights of persons as well as legal services for permitted establishments.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has also issued Resolution No. 108-A approving the tapping of defense, interior, and labor personnel to supplement contact tracing efforts.
The resolution also called for an intensified enforcement of protocols and guidelines in the local level through the review of existing local ordinances and executive orders to provide for the imposition of other forms of penalties such as community service.