MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Authorities will enforce a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in Metro Manila to limit non-essential movement during the month-long community quarantine that begins Sunday, March 15, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Saturday.
Workers and those involved in essential services will be exempt from the curfew, which is set to affect 12 million people in the Philippine capital region, MMDA general manager Jose Arturo Santillan Garcia Jr. said in a press conference.
"'Ano 'yong kinu-curfew natin? Ito 'yung mga gumigimik lang kung saan-saan, ito yung saan-saan nagpupunta o nakikibarkada o nakikiparty, 'yan po, bawal muna," he added.
(Who are we imposing a curfew on? Those who go out to hang out with friends or party, it's not allowed.)
This, after Metro Manila mayors passed a resolution to impose a curfew in their localities to arrest the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Asked how authorities would enforce the curfew, Garcia said violators would not be arrested, but would be warned by police instead.
However, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said those who would break the curfew may face arrest.
"Sisitahin 'yan. In case of doubt, papauwiin talaga 'yan. Kung mag-resist siya, aarestuhin siya. Gano'n lang siya kasimple," he told reporters when asked about curfew violators.
(They will be warned. On the case of doubt, they will be asked to go home. If they will resist, they will be arrested. That's how simple it is.)
Metro Manila mayors also signed a resolution for the temporary closure of shopping malls and establishments of the same kind, said San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora.
To limit the movement of people during the quarantine period, only supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, restaurants with home deliveries, and other essential establishments should be allowed to operate.
"The bottomline is people are advised to stay home. Kung wala kang gagawin, stay home," Año said.
(The bottom-line is people are advised to stay home. If you have nothing essential to do, stay home.)
Residents are still allowed to go out if they are getting groceries, food or medicines while observing social distancing, he added.
Año also urged private companies to adopt alternative working arrangements such as work-from-home schemes and compressed work week.
"Puwede magamit na sana ang 13th month pay para pangbayad na dito sa isang buwan na hindi magtatrabaho," he said.
(I hope the 13th month pay will be granted early [to workers] to pay for their expenses for having no work for a month.)
To date, the Philippines has recorded 64 cases of the new strain of coronavirus with 6 deaths.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque said he expected cases of COVID-19 in the country to rise due to localized transmissions.
"Alam lang natin kung ano 'yong mga numbers, pero 'yong exponential growth natin na nakikita, mabilis na. 'Yan ang mukhang pupuntahan niyan at hindi magtatagal. It's going to be very quick," he said.
(We only know about how many were confirmed cases, but the exponential growth that we see, it's rapid. It's where its heading very quickly.)
Due to the global shortage of testing kits, the health chief said South Korea and China were willing to donate kits to help the country fight the disease.
Metro Manila will undergo community quarantine starting Sunday, March 15 until Tuesday, April 14 as government aims to curb the spread of the virus.
Under the restriction, land, domestic air and sea travel to and from Metro Manila will be banned with exemptions, mass gatherings will be prohibited, while those going out for basic necessities are required to observe a 1-meter radius from the next person.