Duterte approves NCR Plus shift to GCQ with 'heightened restrictions'

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2021 10:51 PM | Updated as of May 13 2021 11:59 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on May 13, 2021. Richard Madelo, Presidential Photo

MANILA (UPDATED) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday approved the shift of Metro Manila and nearby Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces back under general community quarantine "with heightened restrictions" starting this weekend. 

The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 recommended that the NCR Plus area shift to GCQ with heightened restrictions from May 15 to 31, task force spokesman Harry Roque said in a taped meeting with Duterte. 

Duterte "approved the recommendation," Roque said in a statement.

"On the heightened restrictions in the NCR Plus, only essential travel into and out of the NCR Plus shall be allowed," he said. 

"Public transportation shall remain operational at such capacities and protocols in accordance with the Department of Transportation guidelines while the use of active transportation shall be promoted." 

Indoor dine-in services in NCR Plus shall be allowed at 20-percent venue or seating capacity while outdoor or al fresco dining shall be at half of the venue or seating capacity, said Roque. 

Religious gatherings and gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 in NCR Plus shall be allowed up to 10 percent of the venue capacity, he added. 

Outdoor tourist attractions in the NCR Plus, on the other hand, may be opened at 30 percent with strict adherence to minimum public health standards, said the official. 

"Further allowed in the NCR Plus are specialized markets of the Department of Tourism (DOT) following the minimum public health standards and implementation of protocols and restrictions as set by the DOT," said Roque.

"Also continued to be allowed in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions are non-contact sports, games, scrimmages held outdoors; and personal care services that allow for services not requiring mask removal, such as salons, parlors, beauty clinics, etc at 30% capacity."

He said individuals, 18-65 years of age, "can leave their places of residence in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions."

"Meanwhile, entertainment venues, such as bars, concert halls, theaters, etc; recreational venues, such as internet cafes, billiards halls, arcades, etc; amusement parks, fairs, playgrounds, kiddie rides; indoor sports courts and venues and indoor tourist attractions; venues for meetings, conferences, exhibitions shall not be allowed in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions," he said. 

"Interzonal travel from NCR Plus areas, except those conducted by Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APORs), shall remain prohibited in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions." 

QUARANTINE IN OTHER AREAS

Roque said the following areas would be under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) from May 15 to 31, 2021.

  • Santiago City and Quirino Province in Region 2
  • Ifugao in the Cordillera Administrative Region
  • Zamboanga City in Region 9 

The following areas are under general community quarantine, the second loosest of 4 quarantine levels, Roque said. 

  • Apayao
  • Baguio City
  • Benguet
  • Kalinga
  • Mountain Province
  • Abra 
  • Cagayan
  • Isabela 
  • Nueva Vicaya
  • Batangas 
  • Quezon 
  • Puerto Princesa
  • Iligan City
  • Davao City
  • Lanao Del Sur

The rest of the country is under the loosest modified GCQ from May 15 to 31, he said.

The Philippines, which has the second-highest COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, reported 6,385 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, pushing its total tally of cases to 1,124,724. 

Active cases in the country hit 55,260, while deaths reached 18,821, according to the health department. 

Intensive care capacity in NCR hospitals was at the moderate risk level, with about 66.12 percent of beds utilized. 

The congested capital region, an urban sprawl of 16 cities and a municipality, account for about 40 percent of the country's total economic output. 

Extended coronavirus curbs will continue to hurt the Philippines' economy, which posted a record 9.5 percent slump last year.

The Philippines has so far been able to administer at least 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Tuesday.

The government aims to vaccinate 70 million of its 108 million population to achieve herd immunity and safely reopen the economy. 

— With a report from Reuters