MALACAÑANG yesterday made public the guidelines on implementing the social distancing measures and community quarantine in Metro Manila adopted to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Friday night detailed in a memorandum the set of guidelines for management of the COVID-19 situation following a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
A day earlier President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metro Manila under community quarantine which restricts travel to and from the National Capital Region starting March 15 until April 14 in a drastic move to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The stringent social distancing measures and community quarantine guidelines imposed in the National Capital Region (NCR), effective March 15, 2020 until April 14, 2020, are as follows:
Classes and all school activities in all levels shall remain suspended in NCR until April 14. With this, the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and other regulatory agencies shall ensure that educational institutions provide adequate arrangements on how students can continue to fulfill their requirements. The Department of the Interior and Local Government, on the other hand, shall ensure that students remain in their homes during the class suspension.
Mass gatherings such as movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work-related gatherings shall be prohibited. Essential work-related meetings and religious activities may continue so long as strict social distancing, defined as the strict maintenance of a distance of at least one meter radius between and among those attending, is maintained during the entirety of the event.
Local Government Units (LGUs) shall abide by the directives of the Department of Health (DOH) and the DILG in the imposition of general community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions. General community quarantine is defined as a condition where movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points.
Subject to qualifications that the IATF may further provide, all areas under general community quarantine shall implement the following:
a. Restrict the non-essential entry of people to the contained area, especially persons who are at high risk of being infected (i.e., 60 years old and above, immunocompromised or with co-morbidities and pregnant women), except (1) health workers, (2) authorized government officials, (3) those travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons, (4) persons transiting to airports for travel abroad, (5) persons providing basic services and public utilities, and (6) essential skeletal workforce; and
b. Prevent the non-essential exit of people out of the contained area, except (1) health workers, (2) authorized government officials, (3) those travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons, and (4) those who were granted entry based on the above-mentioned provisions, provided that all persons leaving the contained community must be checked for signs and symptoms (e.g., fever, respiratory symptoms, diarrhea) at exit checkpoints where (1) appropriate certification will be issued by the competent health authority (DOH or Provincial/City/Municipal Health Officer), (2) health authority endorses exiting person to recipient LGU, (3) exiting persons to undertake 14-day home based quarantine, and (4) LGUs are required to monitor implementation of home-based quarantine.
“However, if circumstances so warrant, the DOH and the DILG may direct an LGU to impose enhanced community quarantine, which is defined as a condition where strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households, transportation shall be suspended, provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated, and the presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures shall be heightened,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Likewise, alternative working arrangements, including but not limited to, work-from home, compressed work week, staggered working hours, and creation of skeletal workforces, shall be implemented in the Executive Branch.
“All members of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Coast Guard, and health and emergency frontline services are directed to continue full operation. The Legislative and Judicial Branches, as well as the independent constitutional bodies are encouraged to adopt the same policy,” the memorandum read.
Flexible work arrangements are encouraged in the private sector.
“For this purpose, the pertinent advisories of the Department of Labor and Employment and the DTI shall apply,” the memorandum read.
All manufacturing, retail and service establishments are advised to remain open, but strict social distancing measures are required to be observed by respective managements.
“With respect to the restriction on land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from the NCR, all workers, whether employed or self-employed, will be provisionally allowed to travel. For this purpose, proof of employment and/or business must be presented at border checkpoints,” Panelo said.
All departing passengers shall be allowed transit through the NCR. For this purpose, proof of confirmed international travel itinerary, scheduled within 12 hours from entry, should be presented at checkpoints, according to the memorandum.
However, outbound travel to countries where travel restrictions are in place remains prohibited.
Delivery of goods
“The movement of cargoes shall be unhampered, regardless of origin or destination,” the memorandum read.
Mass public transport facilities, including the Light Rail Transit, Metro Rail Transit, and Philippine National Railways shall continue operations.
The Department of Transportation is directed to issue guidelines to ensure social distancing in rail transport and other means of public transportation.
“Aside from the current travel restrictions imposed upon foreign travel to and from China, including its Special Administrative Regions, and portions of South Korea, inbound travelers from Iran and Italy (except Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouse and children, if any, and holders of Permanent Resident Visas or 9(e) Diplomatic Visas issued by the Philippine Government) shall be required to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within forty-eight (48) hours immediately preceding departure signifying that they have tested negative for COVID-19,” Panelo said.
“In addition, the DOH is authorized to grant exemptions, based on humanitarian considerations, in favor of outbound travelers who wish to travel to jurisdictions where restrictions are currently in place.
“The Palace reiterates that all measures imposed are subject to the regular review by the President and the IATF in order to ensure that the virus would be contained and ultimately eliminated without extremely overwhelming the citizens in going about their daily lives,” he said.