Checkpoints inside 'NCR Plus' bubble not meant to impede travel within: official

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2021 03:59 PM | Updated as of Mar 22 2021 04:36 PM

Checkpoints inside 'NCR Plus' bubble not meant to impede travel within: official 1
Members of the Philippine National Police check motorists coming from Muntinlupa City heading to Cavite on March 22, 2021, the start of the implemented GCQ with additional restrictions in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Authorities are "correcting" checkpoints that restrict travel within Metro Manila and its 4 surrounding provinces, which government collectively calls "NCR Plus" and where tighter COVID-19 rules are in place, an official said on Monday. 

Checkpoints or "quarantine control points" inside the bubble should not impede travel, but instead ensure that health protocols are followed, said Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar. 

Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said he called earlier Monday the officials in charge of a checkpoint that restricts travel at the Batasan-San Mateo Road, a highway connecting Quezon City and Rizal. 

"Kino-correct natin 'yan, and this will hold true sa lahat ng areas na nasa bubble. Within the bubble, hindi na natin niri-restrict ang travel ng ating mga kababayan," Eleazar said in a press briefing. 

(We are correcting that, and this will hold true in all areas inside the bubble. Within the bubble, we no longer restrict the travel of our compatriots.)

"Iyan ay tulong na rin natin doon sa paglago o pagbuhay muli ng ekonomiya... It is only doon sa perimeter, outer perimeter o boundary ng ating bubble area kung saan tayo magsasagawa ng pagrerekisa ng mga taong papasok at lalabas," he added. 

(That is our way of helping the recovery of our economy. It is only at the outer perimeter or the boundary of the bubble area that we should check those entering and leaving.)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque also said Sunday that anyone authorized to travel within the bubble area can do so freely.

The national government had said only essential travel will be allowed until April 4 to and from the capital region and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, which authorities called a bubble area.

Those who are entering or leaving the bubble should present documents proving they have essential function. 

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Restrictions in the so-called "NCR Plus" bubble include night curfews and the prohibition of mass gatherings, Roque earlier said. 

"This is not hard lockdown," he said in a virtual briefing on Sunday. "But we have additional restrictions."

Gatherings will be allowed for weddings, baptisms, and funeral services, but limited to a maximum of 10 people.

Travel will remain unimpeded within the bubble area but only individuals 18-65 years old are essentially allowed outdoors.

Travel to and from the bubble area is limited to health and emergency frontline services personnel, government officials and government frontline personnel, persons traveling for medical and humanitarian reasons and those going to the airport to travel abroad.

Restaurants will remain open but only for delivery, take-out, and outdoor dining services.

The Philippines recorded 7,757 additional COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the second-highest single-day increase in the Southeast Asian nation and marking the third straight day confirmed new cases topped 7,000.

Total recorded cases in the Philippines had risen to 663,794 while confirmed deaths had reached 12,968, among the highest in Asia.

The health department urged the public to ensure adherence to minimum public health standards, which includes the wearing of masks even at home when not alone. 

— With a report from Reuters