This is a developing story. We will update this as more updates come in.
On March 16, 2020, it was reported that the Malacañang has officially ordered Luzon to be under "enhanced" community quarantine as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19. What exactly does this mean?
President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the nation via a recorded press conference and explained: "Upon further study of worldwide trends and measures and the need for extreme caution during such time like this, I have come to the conclusion that stricter measures are necessary. Pursuant to my power as President and Republic Act 11332, I am placing the main land of Luzon under quarantine until April 12, 2020 coinciding with the entire end of the Holy week."
Here are important points that we gathered from his speech:
- He elaborated that during this time, work in the private and public sector should be limited to a work from home arrangement if possible.
- Public movement shall also be limited, and people should only go out to buy necessary items such as food and medicine in the coming days. Only these establishments shall remain operational during this time.
- He assured the public that Filipinos will not go hungry, saying that we have enough food supply.
- He called on the private sector saying: "Magbayanihan tayo."
- He asked private companies to release employees' 13th month pay early. He's also calling for a moratorium on rental fees.
- For utilities, he called on companies for a one-month bill reprieve. (Several companies have already implemented this, including Globe, Smart, and Meralco.)
- He said that local officials can enforce measures they feel will help their places be conducive for healing.
- He also mentioned that he is working with the Department of Health to make sure health workers are compensated properly.
At around 8:50 p.m., another press conference was held to clarify the President's statements. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles clarified the conditions of the enhanced community quarantine. Here are some important points:
- Classes and all school activities in all levels shall be continue to be suspended until April 14, 2020.
- Mass gatherings shall be strictly prohibited.
- A strict home quarantine shall be observed in all households. Movement shall be limited to accessing basic necessities. Provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated.
- Public markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores, pharmacies, delivery services, food services, water refilling stations, manufacturing and processing of basic food companies, banks, money transfer services, water services, power, energy, and telecommunication services shall remain open.
- Outsourcing and export-oriented industries shall remain operational.
- Mass transport facilities will be suspended—that includes MRT, LRT, Grab, Angkas, and buses. Private vehicles will be allowed only if necessary.
- Land, air, and sea travel shall be restricted. Outbound passengers intending to leave from international airports shall be allowed to travel within 72 hours from effectivity of enhanced community quarantine.
- Inbound international passengers shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures.
- Movement of cargos within, to, and from the entire Luzon shall be unhampered.
- Borders of Luzon shall be closed at 12 midnight of March 17, 2020.
As of publishing, the DOH has confirmed the number of cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines to be 142. They have also announced that three patients have recovered.