By Ryan Barshop, Esq., Enterline and Partners Co. Ltd.
June 15, 2021: Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Rizal, Bulucan, Cavite and Laguna (“NCR Plus”) will remain under General Community Quarantine (“GCQ”) with restrictions from June 16-30.
The OCTA Research Group which has been advising the Philippines Government and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Infectious Diseases (“IATF”) had earlier proposed placing NCR Plus back to an “ordinary” GCQ level after reports had shown a significant decrease in COVID infections. Currently, NCR Plus accounts for roughly 27 percent of all COVID-19 cases. From March 29- April 4, 2021, NCR Plus accounted for 97 percent of the nation’s reported COVID cases.
June 1, 2021: Effective June 1 through June 15, Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal (“NCR Plus”) will be downgraded from General Community Quarantine (“GCQ”) with Heightened Restrictions to GCQ with Restrictions. The decision to loosen NCR Plus’s quarantine category was based on advice from the OCTA Research Group showing a continual decline in the number of reported cases as well as recommendations from the Manila Mayors Council advocating for fewer restrictions geared towards economic relief.
Under GCQ with Restrictions, the focus will be primarily on limiting the number of persons dining out while allowing for the continued expansion of businesses to operate that were previously restricted.
May 14, 2021: Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, and Rizal will be moved into the lesser restrictive General Community Quarantine (“QCQ”) from May 15- May 31. The move comes after recommendations from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Infectious Diseases which showed a significant decrease in the number of reported cases since the region reverted from GCQ to Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) from March 29 to April 11 and later to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (“MECQ”) from April 12 until May 14.
Under the current classification known as GCQ With Heightened Restrictions, persons ages 18-65 may leave their homes and indoor dining capacity will increase from 10 percent to 20 percent. Outdoor dining will stay at 50 percent and outdoor tourist sites may operate at 30 percent capacity. Religious gatherings including wakes and funerals will be capped at 10 percent. Unlike the previous GCQ classification, leisure travel outside the area will remain prohibited.
Previous update April 29, 2021: Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (“MECQ”) will be extended in Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, and Rizal (for another two weeks until May 14, 2021. The decision to extend the quarantine status, which is scheduled to expire at 11:59pm on April 30, was made after reports by the OCTA Research Group in concurrence with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Infectious Diseases (“IATA”) which noted a significant downtrend in the number of infections. However, additional time is necessary to push the average daily cases even lower.
According to Department of Local Government and Interior (“DILG”) Secretary Eduardo Ano, Metro Manila has seen a significant decrease in the number of reported cases daily after Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) was first declared in late March before shifting to the lesser MECQ in the middle of April. An additional week of MECQ is projected to force the reproduction rate down even further.
In order to continue to balance the number of COVID infections and minimizing damages to economic health, the extension is seen as a Hybrid MECQ allowing more businesses to operate.
Upon advice of the Manila Mayors Council (“MMC”) which is the advisory committee for the Metro Manila Development Authority (“MMDA”), all cities in Metro Manila will follow an eased uniform curfew from 10pm until 4am.
Previous update April 13: The Philippines government has lifted Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal from Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (“MECQ”) starting Monday, April 12 until April 30.
The MECQ classification is the second highest restriction level behind ECQ and ahead of General Community Quarantine (“GCQ”) and Modified General Community Quarantine (“MGCQ). While most of the country is under MGCQ, certain cities and provinces are under GCQ.
Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces were placed under MECQ last May following a hard two lockdown which saw not only Metro Manila but the entire Luzon island under ECQ for nearly two months.
The decision to lift the ECQ classification was based on the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Infectious Diseases which included recommendations from the Manila Mayors Council and the OCTA Research Group.
Previous update April 3: upon advice of the OCTA Research Group and the Inter-Agency Task Force, Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) has been extended by one week. Originally scheduled to expire at 11:59pm on April 5, it will now run until April 11, 2021.
According to the OCTA Research Group, the one week ECQ has led to a significant decrease in the number of reported cases.
Previous update March 29: Beginning 12:01 am on March 29 through Easter Sunday, Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Cavite, Laguna Bulucan, and Rizal will be under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). ECQ is the strictest out of the four quarantine levels. Minors under the age of 18 and senior citizens over the age of 65 are prohibited from leaving their homes.All current restrictions that were imposed before the current ECQ took effect remain in place.
Unlike last year’s two-month-long ECQ, public transportation, including Transportation Network Vehicle Services (Grab and Angkas) will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. Mass gatherings are prohibited as are outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people. Indoors gatherings with any person who is not an immediate household member are likewise not allowed.
Essential and priority construction projects whether public or private will be allowed to operate. Restaurants will be allowed to serve take-out only.
By Ryan Barshop, Esq., Enterline and Partners Co. Ltd.
Enterline and Partners is an American owned immigration and investment consulting firm with offices in Ho Chi Minh City; Manila, Philippines and an affiliate office in Taipei, Taiwan.