This website requires JavaScript.

No Mass Transport, No Classes, Work Suspended As Luzon Placed Under Enhanced Community Quarantine

No Mass Transport, No Classes, Work Suspended As Luzon Placed Under Enhanced Community Quarantine
Photo shows a portion of Roxas Boulevard in Manila before dawn on Monday, March 16, 2020 as the metropolis was placed under community quarantine. Photo by Miguel de Guzman, The Philippine STAR

To force the majority of the population to remain inside their homes, President Duterte placed the entire Luzon under "enhanced community quarantine" on Monday, March 16 to arrest the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The move came as authorities lamented the outcome of the community quarantine implemented in Metro Manila starting March 15, Sunday. Many areas ended up crowded on Monday, March 16 due to checkpoints at the boundaries of Metro Manila and nearby provinces, and lack of public transportation to convey passengers.

The expanded community quarantine was also announced two days after the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country breached 100. The disease, which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, has infected 142 persons and has claimed the lives of 12 others in the Philippines.

"Upon study of worldwide trends, I have come to the conclusion that stricter measures are necessary,” the President declared in a televised address. 

"It will be an enhanced quarantine during which the movement of everyone will be significantly limited," he said, adding the government and the private sector workers would have a "work from home" arrangement.

"Everyone will come out of their houses only to buy food, medicine, and other necessities... Only establishments providing these shall remain open," Duterte added.

The President gave assurance that the government is ready to assist workers who would be affected by the Luzon-wide quarantine.  He urged affected businesses to consider releasing the 13th month pay of their employees or giving their employees even half of their salaries even if no work was performed.

"I would like to address the might want to alleviate the situation by understanding the plight of workers who are not working now," Duterte said.

"If this better close down your business. That's an order because you will help in propagating the disease," he noted. 

Duterte also called on the public to cooperate with authorities and to avoid arguing with police or military personnel implementing the quarantine protocols.

"You cannot be arrested if you are out but if you are advised to go home and you grapple with the police with words, ultimately they may bring you to the station for disobedience to a lawful authority. They can really bring you to the station," the President said.

"The problem is there is a crisis. So you have to obey," he added.

Duterte said everyone has a role to play in combating the disease. "We are at war against a vicious and invisible enemy, one that cannot be seen by naked eye. In this war, we are all soldiers."

Duterte also thanked health workers who are handling COVID-19 patients.

"In due time, we will express to them our gratitude in a more tangible way...I have directed the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and DOH (Department of Health) to find ways to best compensate them," he added.

The President also called on barangay captains to work with the social welfare department to identify households who cannot afford to buy food.  "If you are afraid to die of COVID-19, you have no business being a barangay captain," Duterte said.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said "provision for food and essential services shall be regulated. The respective (local government units or LGUs) will have to create a system where food and essential needs will be delivered to the homes of the communities."

"In other words, we will not allow a rush to getting food and supplies because there will be sufficient food and supply," Panelo explained.

Based on the memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea following the declaration of the enhanced community quarantine, class suspension in all levels will now cover entire Luzon from March 17, 2020 to April 14, 2020

Here are the other salient measures to be implemented from March 17, 2020 to April 13, 2020:

• Mass gatherings shall be prohibited;

• A strict home quarantine shall be observed in all households; movement shall be limited to accessing basic necessities; provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated; and there will be heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures;

• A work from home arrangement shall be implemented in the executive branch, except the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard; health and emergency frontline services, and border control and other critical services, which shall ensure a skeleton workforce;

• Only those private establishments providing basic necessities and such activities related to food and medicine production such public markets, supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, banks, money transfer services, power, energy, water and telecommunications supplies and facilities, shall be open;

• In all such open establishments, their respective managements shall ensure the adoption of a strict skeleton workforce to support operations, as well as all strict social distancing measures;

• Business process outsourcing or BPO establishments and export-oriented industries shall remain operational, subject to the condition that strict social distancing measures are observed, their respective personnel are provided, appropriate temporary accommodation arrangements by March 18, 2020, and that a skeleton workforce shall be implemented;

• Media personnel shall be allowed to travel within the quarantine area, provided that within 72 hours from the issuance of the memorandum, media personnel intending to travel within the quarantine area shall secure an identification card from the Presidential Communications Operations Office;

• For purposes of the enhanced community quarantine, transit to and from the above establishments anywhere within the area covered shall be allowed. Security personnel of the same establishments shall likewise be allowed to travel within the quarantine area;

• Mass public transport facilities shall be suspended:

– Train systems, buses, jeeps and other forms of mass transportation will not be allowed to operate in Luzon.

– Residents of Luzon may only be allowed to walk or use their private vehicles when buying basic necessities in public markets, groceries and convenience stores.

– The general rule is to stay at home. If a resident needs to go out to buy basic goods, only one person is allowed.

– Operations of transport network vehicle services (TNVS), such as Grab, Angkas, and Joyride, are suspended.

– LGUs can provide transportation for those who are required to report to work, such as healthcare workers and those in the BPO industry.

– BPO companies are also required to provide temporary accommodation arrangements to their employees by March 18, 2020.

• Land, air and sea travel shall be restricted:

– Outbound passengers intending to depart the Philippines from any of the international airports in Luzon shall be allowed to travel for a period of 72 hours from effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine.

– Inbound international passengers, in transit upon effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine, shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions imposed by the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

– All inbound Filipino citizens including their foreign spouse and children, if any, holders of permanent resident visa, and holders of 9(e) diplomat visas issued by the Philippine government shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions imposed by the IATF.

– The movement of cargoes within, to and from the entire Luzon shall be unhampered. For this purpose, guidelines for the accompanying crew or personnel of transiting cargoes shall be formulated by the Department of Transportation.

– Land, air and sea travel of uniformed personnel for official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to the COVID-19, and other humanitarian assistance, shall be allowed.

• The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment, in coordination with the Department of Finance, DBM, and Department of Trade and Industry shall formulate programs, projects and measures for the social amelioration of affected workers and residents of the area subject of the enhanced community quarantine. These measures may include, but shall not be limited to, moratorium on lease rentals, advancing a pro-rated 13th month pay, reprieve in utility bills, and assistance to micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.

The DSWD is further directed to institute measures to expedite the distribution of food assistance to the most affected residents of the entire Luzon.

Failure to abide by the foregoing guidelines and measures shall be subjected to appropriate action, both criminal and administrative, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. For this purpose, the Department of Justice is directed to initiate appropriate charges, as may be warranted.