MANILA -- The Philippines on Friday started easing pandemic restrictions, with some areas placed under a looser general community quarantine to stop COVID-19 infections that killed some 500 locally and 227,000 globally.
Only Metro Manila and high-risk areas will remain under the enhanced community quarantine or ECQ until May 15. Under a GCQ, there will be a measured resumption of work, public transportation and businesses, including shopping malls.
"Dapat necessary lang po ang inyong mga paglabas sa bahay o di kaya ay work-related. Wala pa rin po tayong pasyal-pasyal," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque told DZMM.
(All trips out of the house should be necessary or work-related. Strolling around is still banned.)
The government might keep or re-implement the ECQ if cases of the respiratory disease spike in an area, he said.
Nearly 2 months into the lockdown or ECQ that until Friday covered the entire Luzon island, the Philippines tallied 8,488 confirmed COVID-19 infections, including 568 deaths and 1,043 recoveries.
The Department of Health had hoped to bring the total daily tests to 8,000 this week as more cities in the capital region started mass testing drives.
In Manila, so-called hard lockdowns were implemented for 48 hours in at least 2 densely populated districts.
January to March gross domestic product data will be released on May 7, with analysts and government officials forecasting a contraction in the second and third quarters.
On Tuesday, the Philippines added to its COVID-19 war chest selling $2.35 billion (P119 billion) in global bonds at the lowest interest on record for its 10-year and 25-year tenors.
Economic losses have run up to P700 billion and could swell to P1.1 trillion, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said Thursday.
WHICH BUSINESSES ARE ALLOWED?
The following businesses are allowed, regardless of whether the area is under a general or enhanced quarantine:
• Agriculture and fisheries and the entire value chain including manufacturing of feeds, fertilizers, and pesticides
• Manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products, essential products, medicines, and medical supplies including:
--Essential hygiene products such as soaps, detergents shampoo,
conditioners, diapers, feminine hygiene products, tissue, wipes
and toilet papers
--Medicines and vitamins
--Medical products such as PPEs, masks, gloves,
• Hospitals and medical clinics
• Dental and EENT clinics (with strict health standards)
• Retail establishments (groceries, supermarkets, hypermarkets, convenience stores, public markets, pharmacies, and drug stores
• Food preparations and water stations)
• Logistics service providers (cargo handling, warehousing, trucking, freight forwarding and shipping line)
• Delivery services, whether or not e-commerce platform, in-house or outsourced, transporting only food, water, medicine, pet food, hardware products or other basic necessities
• Banks and capital markets, per section 5 of IATF Resolution No. 13 dated March 17, 2020
• Power, energy, water, IT and telecommunications supplies and facilities, waste disposal services and technical services to above utilities
• Electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply
• Postal and courier activities
• Water collection, treatment, and supply
• Waste collection, treatment, and disposal activities (except materials recovery - junk shop)
• Sewerage (except emptying of septic tanks)
• Veterinary activities
• Repair and installation of machinery and equipment
• Repair of computers and personal household goods
• Services to buildings and landscape activities (except landscape care)
• Employment activities (manpower services for essential activities)
• Security and investigation activities
• Programming and broadcasting activities
• Rental and leasing activities (except for entertainment and mass gathering purposes)
• Accommodations used as quarantine facilities for OFW and overseas Filipinos, as well as temporary accommodation for essential industries such as healthcare facilities, banks, BPOs, exporters and other frontline service sectors
• Services to buildings and landscape activities
• Extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas
• Gasoline stations
• Laundry shops (including self-service)
• Funeral services
• Export companies (with temporary accommodation and shuttle services
• Business process outsourcing companies (with temporary accommodation and shuttle services, work from home)
• Mining and quarrying
WHICH BUSINESSES ARE NOT ALLOWED?
The businesses and services will not be allowed to resume both in areas under the enhanced community quarantine and those under the general community quarantine:
• Gyms, fitness studios, and sports facilities
• Entertainment-related mass gatherings such as:
Pubs and bars
• Business-related mass gatherings such as:
• Politically-related mass gatherings such as:
• Sports-related mass gatherings such as:
• Religious mass gatherings
• Going to libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural activities
• Gambling and betting activities
• Activities of travel agencies, tour operators, reservation services
• Activities of membership organizations
WHO CAN TRAVEL WHERE?
Only travel in ECQ areas will remain restricted. However, those in GCQ areas cannot just go to places still in lockdown, officials said. Workers who need to cross from area to area have to present proof of employment or company ID to travel.
The government's pandemic task force released the following guidelines for areas under ECQ and GCQ:
• Travel to and from areas under enhanced community quarantine is prohibited except for:
- health workers
- government officials and frontline personnel
- those traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons
- persons transiting to the airport for travel abroad
- workers in permitted establishments
- persons providing essential goods, services, and public utilities
- essential skeletal workforce
- repatriated OFWs and non-OFWs returning to their residences
- other persons transported through the efforts of the national government upon conduct of necessary quarantine protocols and in concurrence with the receiving LGUs
• Workers in the logistics sector, such as cargo, trucking, and port operations shall likewise be allowed to transit across areas placed under ECQ or GCQ provided that only a maximum of 5 personnel may operate cargo and delivery vehicles by land, with or without load.
• Land, air or sea travel by uniformed personnel and government officials and employees for official business, with the corresponding travel authority, shall be allowed
• OFWs, permanent residents of foreign jurisdictions, and stranded foreigners may leave for abroad through any of the airports or seaports. Departing passengers may be accompanied by only 1 person traveling to any international port, who shall be allowed to return to his/her point of origin.
• Repatriated OFWs or returning Filipinos who have been issued with a certificate of completion of the 14-day facility-based quarantine or those who may be required to undergo quarantine shall be granted unhampered transit across zones en route to their final destination in the Philippines.