NCR Plus placed under ECQ

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal and Cavite under a weeklong Enhanced Community Quarantine — the highest lockdown level — starting Monday (March 29) until April 4 as the country continued to log more than 9,000 new COVID-19 cases.

Vendors outside the Antipolo Cathedral sell woven palm leaves (palaspas) in Antipolo City Saturday morning, hours before Malacañang announced a return to the strictest lockdown level — Enhanced Community Quarantine — for a week beginning Monday (March 29). The announcement prodded some residents within the NCR Plus to rush to nearby supermarkets to stock up on food and other essential items. Ryan Benaid for PonD News Asia

“We are all homeliners again. We will return to ECQ because the number of people contracting COVID is too high — almost 10,000 a day. Our critical care utilization is now under a red warning,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

“This will be a one week timeout for our medical frontliners,” he said.

The on Saturday logged 9,595 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 712,442, the Department of Health said.

This marked the second consecutive day when more than 9,000 new cases were reported.

Health Undersecretary Leopold Vega said the bed capacity of big hospitals in Metro Manila for COVID-19 patients has already reached “high risk” level.

Under ECQ, the following restrictions will be put in place:

– 11-hour curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m.

– Public transportation will be allowed but at a limited capacity based on guidelines to be issued by the Department of Transportation

– Mass gatherings, including religious gatherings, are strictly prohibited. “Full stop (on public masses),” Roque said. This means the previous IATF resolution allowin a once-a-day mass with 10 percent capacity for the Holy Week will no longer push through.

People line up outside a supermarket along España in Manila. LFS Twitter account

– Movements will be limited to Authorized Persons Outside Residence, those accessing essential goods and services, and workers in establishments allowed to operate. People aged below 18 and above 65, people with comorbidities, and pregnant women will not be allowed to go out, unless they need to either obtain essential goods and services or work in office.

– Dining establishments for take-out and delivery only.

– Essential priority construction projects shall be allowed subject to the guidelines to be issued by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

– Private establishments offering essential goods and services, as well as media establishments, can operate at 50 percent capacity.

Residents of Gen. Trias in Cavite beat the mall’s closing time for last-minute grocery shopping. Jackielyn Langcay

– Other establishments that can adopt a skeleton workforce include dental clinics, optometry clinics, pharmacies, veterinary clinics, banks, money transfer services, telecommunications companies, manufacturing firms, funeral and embalming services, and security personnel.

Roque said there will be a heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said staycations will also now be disallowed in areas under ECQ.

“Do not panic. Do not lose hope. This is not the first time we are under ECQ. We assure you the government is ready and will help you,” Roque said.

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