On March 17, 2020 at 12:00 AM, the whole of Luzon was officially placed in what the Malacañang palace calls “Enhanced Community Quarantine” as a heightened containment measure against the COVID-19 by order of President Rodrigo Duterte.
This is due to the continuous rise of confirmed cases and fatalities as a result of the virus’ spread in the region. The ECQ is set until 12:00 AM of April 13, 2020.
Suspension of all classes and school activities remain until April 14, 2020.
In these trying times, Filipinos in Luzon are raising their concerns as to what an enhanced community quarantine will mean for them, especially for those who live on a daily wage.
To help you understand the ECQ, below are the things you can and cannot do while under this government order.
- You cannot attend or host any mass gatherings. Surely, big events have already been cancelled by now, so this shouldn’t be of great concern.
- You cannot leave your house unless you absolutely need to.
- If you must buy necessities, only one member of the family is encouraged to do so.
- Regulated provisions for food and key health services will be implemented
- More uniformed personnel will be making rounds.
- You cannot ride or operate mass public transportation as these have been halted under the ECQ order.
- This includes the trains (MRT, LRT, etc.) buses, jeepneys, tricycles, taxis — and yes, even Grab.
- You cannot travel whether on land, air, or sea. The restrictions are as follow:
- Only outbound trips of 72 hours (or until March 19) from international airports in the Luzon region shall be permitted after the ECQ has been implemented.
- Inbound trips shall be granted entry but are subjected to the appropriate quarantine measures of the IATF.
- You can work from home.
- This shall be applicable to those who work within the executive branch, but not including those working in the PNP, PCG, AFP, and frontline medical and emergency services, as well as other key branches like border control, all of which shall have skeletal work schedules.
- For businesses, this will depend on what kind of work arrangement your respective company will apply as a response to the ECQ order. However, skeletal work schedules are encouraged and social distancing rules must be followed.
- Make sure to communicate with your employer regarding this matter.
- Only establishments that provide basic services and needs like food, groceries, and medicine are allowed to operate.
- These include markets, convenience stores, medical establishments, delivery services, water stations, manufacturing plants of foods and medicines, money wiring services, banks, and telecommunications, energy, and water facilities.
- These establishments shall have skeletal work schedules and follow social distancing rules.
- Restaurants can continue operations through delivery services only.
- You can travel within the quarantined region of Luzon if you are part of the media.
- This is only applicable to those who are able to present an identification card that can be secured at the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
- You can expect the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) along with other agencies to come up with projects, programs, and other measures to aid residents and workers affected by the enhanced community quarantine order according to the memorandum.
- Such measures will include a moratorium or temporary delay on lease rentals and utility bills, the advance of pro-rated 13th month pays, and assisting micro to medium-scale businesses.
- The DSWD will be speeding up food distribution and assistance to those Luzon residents heavily affected by the ECQ.
Non-observance of these guidelines will lead to “criminal and/or administrative sanctions” including charges by the Department of Justice (DOJ) if need be according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
It may feel like the apocalypse right now, but as long as we remain sensible citizens during this time, we’ll all get through this — together.