MANILA (UPDATED AS OF 1:30 p.m. March 18, 2020) - The entire northern Philippine island of Luzon was placed on an “enhanced community quarantine” Tuesday to contain the outbreak of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions on the implementation of the quarantine:
1. When is the enhanced community quarantine effective?
- The enhanced community quarantine for Luzon took effect at midnight on Tuesday, March 17 and end on Sunday, April 12.
2. How is the enhanced community quarantine different from the general community quarantine?
- The enhanced community quarantine is an expanded and stricter. version of the earlier imposed general community quarantine in Metro Manila.
- Under the tougher quarantine, the government mandates strict home confinement in all households, suspension of transportation lines, regulation of provision for food and essential health services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce isolation procedures. This is stricter than the general community quarantine, which only limits the movement of people to accessing basic necessities and work, and the presence of uniformed personnel and quarantine officers.
- Mass gatherings during the enhanced community quarantine period remain prohibited.
3. What are the travel, and transportation guidelines during the quarantine period?
- All mass public transport facilities shall suspend its operations including train lines (MRT, LRT-1, LRT-2, PNR), as well as public utility vehicles such as buses, jeepneys, ride-hailing services, FX, UV Express, Point-to-Point (P2P) buses, and motorcycle taxis.
- Land, air and sea travel shall be restricted. Travel of diplomats and uniformed personnel for official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to the COVID-19, and other humanitarian assistance, however, are exempted from restrictions.
- Outbound passengers limited to overseas Filipino workers, balikbayans, and foreigners intending to depart the Philippines from Luzon are allowed to leave at any time during the enhanced community quarantine period provided that proof of international travel itinerary scheduled within 24 hours must be presented.
- Departing passengers may only be accompanied by 1 person when traveling to any international port.
- Inbound international passengers, meanwhile, who are already in transit upon the effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine will be allowed entry subject to the quarantine procedures of health authorities.
- Inbound flights throughout the quarantine period will be limited for the repatriation of Filipinos overseas.
- Movement of cargoes within, to and from the entire Luzon shall remain unhampered.
- Only 1 person per household is allowed to go outside their homes to buy basic necessities. Use of private vehicles for this purpose shall be allowed.
- Farmers and other food producers are also exempted from travel restrictions but are subject to quarantine checkpoints.
- For returning overseas Filipino workers, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration shall provide transportation services for the purpose of ferrying them from international ports to their respective destinations in Luzon. The OWWA can also provide services to fetch departing OFWs from their homes in Luzon.
- Media vehicles and reporters shall be allowed to travel within the quarantine area provided that they secure a special media pass from the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
- Security personnel of businesses allowed to operate during the enhanced community quarantine period are allowed to travel within the area.
- Bonafide IDs issued by establishments exempted from the strict home quarantine requirements shall be honored by law enforcement agencies until March 21, 2020.
4. Who are considered as health and emergency frontline workers during the enhanced community quarantine period?
- Public health workers (all employees of the Department of Health, DOH Hospitals, hospitals of local government units, and provincial, city, and rural health units)
- Private health workers, such as but not limited to medical professionals, hospital administrative staff and aides from private health facilities, as well as their service providers
- Health workers and volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross and the World Health Organization.
5. Is there class suspension and what areas are covered?
- Classes and all school activities in all levels in Luzon shall be suspended until April 14, 2020 and would resume on April 15, 2020.
6. Is there work suspension?
- For the executive branch of government, a “work from home” arrangement will be implemented with the exemption of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, health and emergency frontline services, and border control which should ensure a skeletal workforce.
- All government agencies in the executive branch are directed to issue accreditation orders to identify their respective skeletal workforces during the community quarantine period. Bonafide IDs issued by the respective agencies shall be sufficient for movement around the contained area until such time that such accreditation orders have been issued by the agency concerned. Skeletal workforces may use official agency vehicles.
- President Rodrigo Duterte also urged private companies to adopt “work from home” arrangements in the meantime to control the spread of COVID-19.
7. What companies or businesses are allowed to operate?
- Private establishments providing basic necessities such as those related to food and medicine production shall be allowed to operate or remain open.
Among businesses that are allowed to operate are:
- public markets
- convenience stores
- medical clinics
- pharmacies and drug stores
- food preparation and delivery services
- gasoline stations
- funeral and interment services
- water-refilling stations
- manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines
- Banks, money transfer services, power, energy, water, and telecommunications supplies and facilities shall also remain open.
- Business Process Outsourcing establishments or call centers and export-oriented industries shall remain operational but must observe strict “social distancing measures,” and provide temporary accommodation arrangements to their workers by Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Such firms are also required to maintain a skeletal workforce.
- Capital markets, including but not limited to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Securities and Exchange Commission, Philippine Stock Exchange, Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corporation, Philippine Securities Settlement Corporation, and Philippine Depository and Trust Corporation, shall be allowed to operate effective March 18, 2020, subject to the qualification of establishing skeletal workforces in their respective establishments
- Hotels or similar establishments are barred from operating except those accommodating guests who have existing booking accommodations for foreigners as of March 17, 2020 or guests who have existing long-term leases.
8. What if I have to go to work but I don’t have a private car?
- The Department of Transportation is tasked to develop a system of point-to-point transport services for health workers and emergency responders.
- Some individuals who still have to report for work might have to walk to their offices during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon since public transportation is suspended, Paranaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez, the head of the Metro Manila Mayors Council (MMMC) said Tuesday.
- Malacañang also urged businesses to provide temporary accommodations for their workers who still have to report for work during the quarantine period.
9. What help can the government offer workers who might lose income during the quarantine period?
- President Rodrigo Duterte has appealed to employers to advance the 13th-month pay of workers, even if it’s pro-rated or pay at least half of their monthly salaries to sustain the possible income loss during the quarantine period. Under the law, 13th-month pay should be released before Christmas Day.
- The government has also instructed relevant agencies to study measures that could help workers financially, including a moratorium on lease rentals, reprieve in utility bills and assistance to MSMEs.
10. What happens if I violate guidelines of the enhanced community quarantine period?
- Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in a Palace memo, said failure to abide by the enhanced community quarantine guidelines will be subjected to both criminal and appropriate action in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.
- Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, assured the public that law enforcers cannot arrest those who violate movement protocols such as entry and exit into quarantined areas but they could physically prevent them from coming in or out.
- Warrantless arrests, however, can be made if a person assaults, bribes, or slanders the law enforcer.
Government officials shall conduct a day-to-day review of the enhanced community quarantine period in Luzon and may impose changes on measures adopted to control the spread of COVID-19.