'Modified' lockdown set in Metro Manila, 2 other areas

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 12 2020 12:25 PM | Updated as of May 13 2020 12:31 AM

Police roving patrols monitor the situation as village volunteers screen entry points of Batasan Hills in Quezon City on May 11, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (4TH UPDATE) - Metro Manila and 2 other areas will shift to a modified lockdown until the end of the month while the rest of the country will have fewer restrictions as the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) lapses on Friday, Malacañang said Tuesday.

A "modified" lockdown will stay from May 16 until May 31 in Metro Manila, neighboring Laguna province, and Cebu City in the Visayas, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said, announcing President Rodrigo Duterte's decision that followed a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases Monday night.

The 3 areas have a combined population of around 16 million.

It was the third extension and revision in the scope of the ECQ since it was declared over all of Luzon on March 17. 

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WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

Roque said the modified lockdown is different from the ECQ in the sense that it allows the slow restart of the economy.

Because of the 2-month long lockdown, the country's economy shrank 0.2 percent in the quarter by the end of March, the first contraction since 1998.

"Ang pinagkaiba po unti-unti nating binubuksan ang ekonomiya," Roque said.

(The difference is that we are slowly reopening the economy.)

Under a modified lockdown, Roque said the movement of people will be limited to essential services and going to work. There will also be limited transportation services for essential goods and services.

Select industries can operate up to a maximum of 50 percent capacity, Roque said. The industries will be announced on Wednesday.

"Ang modified po na ECQ is ECQ kaya lang may ilang industriya na bubuksan hanggang 50 porsiyento at mayroon pa rin ilang zona, mga barangay, o grupo ng mga barangay na mananatili pa rin sa ECQ," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

(A modified ECQ is still an ECQ but there are certain industries that can open up to 50 percent and there are zones, villages, or groups of villages that will remain under ECQ.)

The government's COVID-19 response task force also classified so-called general community quarantine or GCQ areas into low and moderate risk. Areas under ECQ are considered high risk.

Roque said local officials may appeal the classification of their respective areas to the pandemic task force's screening and validation committee until Wednesday, May 13.

A group of experts from the University of the Philippines approved placing Metro Manila under a modified lockdown as long as there are clear guidelines to be followed.

"Sang-ayon kami, oo, at dahil base yan sa datos. Okay lang sa akin basta maayos ang guidelines," said Ranjit Singh Rye, assistant professor at the UP Department of Political Science.

Rye, along with professors Guido David of the UP Institute of Mathematics and Ma. Patricia Agbulos of the OCTA Research, recommended in a report to the national government on May 8 to extend the ECQ for the NCR, Batangas, Cebu, Zamboanga del Sur, and Davao City beyond May 15.

Earlier in the day, Duterte urged the public to wear face masks in public places, and to practice physical distancing as he warned that the country cannot afford another wave of infections.

"We cannot afford a second or third wave na mangyari (to happen)," Duterte said in a public address aired earlier in the day.

The Philippines on Monday tallied 11,086 infections since its first case was reported on Jan. 30. This includes 726 deaths and 1,999 recoveries.

Worldwide, 4.1 million people have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard. Of those, 1.4 million have already recovered and 280,000 have died.