‘General community quarantine’ to be implemented in low- or moderate-risk areas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 24) — Some quarantine rules will be relaxed, several non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen, and the so-called “new normal” will be in place in the areas deemed to have low to moderate number of COVID-19 cases.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday announced that several provinces in the country, including some areas in Luzon, will be placed under “general community quarantine” or GCQ when the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine ends on April 30.

Starting May 1, the following areas — classified into low- or moderate-risk areas — will be placed under GCQ:

Moderate-risk areas:

-Negros Occidental

-Negros Oriental


-Davao Del Sur

-Davao Oriental

-Sultan Kudarat

-Lanao Del Sur

Low-risk areas:


-Mountain Province



-Ilocos Sur






-Camarines Norte






-Eastern Samar


-Northern Samar

-Southern Leyte

-Zamboanga Del Norte

-Zamboanga Sibugay



-Davao Occidental


-Agusan Del Sur

-Dinagat Island

-Surigao Del Norte

-Surigao Del Sur

-Agusan Del Norte



Authorities have yet to assess if the following moderate-risk areas will be placed under ECQ or GCQ: Abra, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Marinduque, Camarines Sur, Aklan, Capiz, Samar, Western Samar, Zamboanga Del Sur, Lanao Del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, and Maguindanao.

The task force took into account how fast the number of infections double in an area, as well as the capacity of hospitals to handle a possible surge in patients who may need critical care if restrictions are relaxed. Provinces and cities are then shaded green as low-risk areas, given few or no infections; yellow or orange for varying degrees under moderate risk — where they are either close to ending or are beyond outbreak mode; and red for high-risk areas where the virus easily spreads.

GCQ rules

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday laid down the rules for those living in areas where the GCQ is in place:

1. Selected workers in nonessential services are allowed to go to work. Companies in electronics, exports, manufacturing, e-commerce, delivery, repair services, maintenance, and housing can resume full operations as long as they observe minimum health standards such as physical distancing. Those in finance, business process outsourcing (BPO), and non-leisure trade and services can have half of its employees work from home while the remaining 50 percent are working on site. Schools, amusement centers, leisure facilities, gaming, and tourism services must remain closed

2. Children (0 to 20 years old), elderly (60 years old and above), and people with high-risk health issues are not allowed to go out of their homes

3. Non-leisure shops in malls are allowed to reopen. Malls should limit entry of shoppers and implement mandatory temperature check and mandatory use of masks and alcohol. They were also told to turn up the airconditioning temperature and stop offering free WiFi to discourage people to "linger" inside the malls

4. Priority construction projects can resume

5. Nonworkers, except children, elderly, vulnerable people, are allowed to buy food and go out to avail of essential services

6. Public transport can operate at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing

7. Local government units shall enforce curfew for nonworkers

8. Airports and ports can only operate for the unhampered delivery of goods

There are still some restrictions that will be implemented to stop people from loitering around. For one, Roque said malls that will reopen next month are required to keep the centralized temperature at 26 degrees Celsius and to shut off the free wifi service. Minimum health standards like the wearing of masks, taking of body temperatures, and handwashing protocols will also continue to be enforced.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said those who will head out of their homes in areas under GCQ must always bring an ID to prove that they are aged between 21-59. He added that checkpoints will remain along city or provincial borders.

If infections sustain a decline, these areas may see the GCQ restrictions lifted by May 16, new Socioeconomic Planning chief Karl Kendrick Chua said in a separate briefing.

Meanwhile, the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and "all other high risk" provinces in Luzon will be extended until May 15.

Duterte’s decision on the fate of the six-week long quarantine in the country's largest island, home to 57 million people and large industries, came after a series of meetings with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Health experts, including the World Health Organization, have warned that hastily lifting quarantine restrictions — which include the suspension of mass transportation and the imposition of stay-at-home orders — may lead to a second wave of infections, just like in Singapore, which initially arrested the spread of COVID-19, but later faced a resurgence of the viral disease.

This is the second extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila. Duterte originally scheduled the Luzon-wide quarantine to last only until April 14, but eventually decided to extend it until April 30, and as of today, until May 15.

To date, the country has recorded 7,192 cases of COVID-19, including 762 recoveries and 477 fatalities.