MANILA — Metro Manila and nearby Laguna province will shift to the second strictest of 4 lockdown levels until the end of August to ease an uptick in COVID-19 cases linked to the highly contagious Delta variant, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Metro Manila and the province of Laguna will be under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from August 21 until August 31, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
Metro Manila's 13 million people and nearby Laguna's 3.3 million residents, returned to ECQ on Aug. 6. The 2 areas were last under the toughest lockdown level in April, when authorities battled a spike in infections.
The province of Bataan will also be placed under MECQ from August 23 to 31.
Roque said dine-in services, both indoor and al-fresco, will still be prohibited in the National Capital Region, Laguna and Bataan.
Personal care services, including beauty salons, beauty parlors, barbershops and nail spas, as well as religious gatherings, are also still not allowed.
Independent research group OCTA earlier urged authorities to tighten the quarantine enforcement.
"May mga nababalitaan pa rin tayong nagkakaroon ng social gathering," OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said on Thursday.
"Kapag nalusutan na natin itong Delta variant sa Metro Manila, puwede na tayong magluwag at magkaroon na tayo ng tuluy-tuloy na hanggang Pasko, iyan ang mahalaga. Pero sa ngayon, kaunting tiis lang muna," he said in a televised public briefing.
(We have received reports of social gatherings. If we get past the Delta variant in Metro Manila, we can ease up until Christmas, that is what's important. But for now, let's have a little patience.)
The police have reported "thousands" of violators, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Thursday.
"Even though we will have these very strict restrictions katulad ng ECQ, kung hindi po tayo makakakpag-comply ng safety protocols… hindi rin po magkakaroon ng success o hindi natin maa-achieve ang objectives natin," she said in a press briefing.
(Even though we will have these very strict restrictions like ECQ, if we will not comply with safety protocols, we will not achieve success or our objectives.)
With some 1.7 million COVID-19 infections and over 30,000 deaths, the Philippines is battling one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks.
Government aims to immunize up to 70 million people this year to achieve herd immunity and safely reopen the economy. At least 12.5 million people have been fully vaccinated so far.