Metro Manila streets stir back to life as modified lockdown starts


Posted at May 16 2020 11:59 AM | Updated as of May 16 2020 04:26 PM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) – Several streets around Metro Manila slowly started coming back to life on Saturday as the Philippine capital shifted to a modified enhanced community quarantine after 2 months under lockdown.

Dozens of mask-wearing market-goers shopped for fresh produce in Blumentritt, Manila.

In nearby Rizal province, several residents in San Mateo also went out to buy at some stores that were allowed to resume business following the extended lockdown imposed to curb the transmission of COVID-19

Meanwhile, a shopping mall in Eastwood, Quezon City opened its doors to shoppers while safety measures against the virus were put in place.

Mall-goers were urged to keep a safe distance from others as safety protocol officers are deployed to reinforce the measure.

Alcohol and hand sanitizers were placed in entrances while a disinfection team thoroughly cleaned door handles, handrails and other common areas.

In Taguig City, large shopping centers will remain closed for the weekend while authorities thresh out health protocols against the virus.

Further down south of Metro Manila, Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano warned closure of commercial establishments if they fail to adhere to health and safety standards.

The city mayor requires businesses to implement temperature checks, mandatory use of face masks, and physical distancing.

On Saturday, Metro Manila, Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales and Angeles City shifted to a modified lockdown, where government sought to restart an economy stricken by transport and work restrictions because of the pandemic.

The cities of Cebu and Mandaue in the Visayas remain under enhanced community quarantine, while other parts of the country are now under general community quarantine, with loosened restrictions.

Under a modified lockdown, select businesses are allowed to operate at 50-percent capacity.

Among those included are malls and commercial centers, restaurants, hardware stores, clothing and accessories shops, and electronic commerce companies, which were long shut during the strict quarantine.

“Bagama’t nabago ang pangalan, 'yan ay modified or general, tayo’y naka-community quarantine pa rin. Habang wala pang bakuna, habang wala pang gamot sa COVID-19, nandiyan pa rin po ang banta,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a Laging Handa press briefing.

(While the name has changed, whether modified or general, we're still under community quarantine. While there is still no vaccine, the threat is still there.)

The Philippine National Police, in a statement, said the easing of lockdown rules nationwide went "smoothly and orderly with no major untoward incident reported."

The police said it anticipates challenges in enforcing lockdown rules during the rainy season, citing difficulty in implementation of physical distancing in evacuation operations.

"The challenge becomes even greater when evacuating persons under quarantine or isolation for being probable or suspected COVID-19 cases," PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said.

- With reports from Jekki Pascual, Henry Atuelan, Anjo Bagaoisan, Bianca Dava and Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News