MECQ guidelines: What we know so far

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) — With the announcement of the shift of Metro Manila and several provinces to modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ starting April 12, confusion also ensued because of the national government's ever-changing guidelines.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Sunday said Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna will ease to the less strict form of lockdown until April 30. The provinces of Quirino and Abra, and Santiago City in Isabela were also placed under MECQ.

Metro Manila will impose a unified curfew hour from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Authorized persons outside of residence are exempted from the curfew.

Curfew hours in Cavite will be from 10 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.

Outdoor dine-in with 50% capacity is allowed as long as there are acrylic dividers and diners are seated diagonally, while dining inside restaurants is not allowed. Restaurants can also accommodate takeout orders.

Public transportation will remain limited to authorized persons outside of residence during the imposition of MECQ.

Local government units have also shared the omnibus guidelines published by the Inter-Agency Task Force on April 3. Roque announced the other protocols in his briefing on Monday.

These are the guidelines imposed under the MECQ:

Travel and movement

1. Strict home quarantine shall be observed. Travel should be limited to accessing essential goods and services, for work in permitted establishments.

2. Those below 18 years old, over 65 years old, those with co-morbidities, pregnant women should stay at home, except for work and obtaining essential services. LGUs may relax the minimum age range to below 15 years old, depending on the COVID-19 situation in their respective jurisdictions.

3. Mass gatherings are prohibited. Religious gatherings will be allowed up to 10% of the venue capacity, but LGUs are allowed to increase it up to 30%.

4. Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for non-COVID deaths are allowed, but limited to immediate family members. Visits to memorial parks, cemeteries and columbaria shall be limited to not more than 10 people per group and not exceeding thirty percent 30% of the venue capacity. For confirmed, suspected or probable COVID deaths, regardless of community quarantine status, only adult family members of the deceased are permitted to attend the funeral. Large gathering at crematorium and burial ground should be avoided, there will be no viewing of cremains.

5. Individual outdoor exercises while wearing face masks are allowed within the barangay or village.

6. Road, rail, maritime and aviation sectors of public transportation may operate at such capacity and protocols in accordance with guidelines issued by the Transportation department.

Business operations

The Trade Department said establishments and activities allowed to reopen at half capacity include:

- media establishments

- dental, rehabilitation, optometry and other medical clinics for the treatment of illness or injuries

- veterinary clinics

- banks, pawnshops, money transfer services

- capital markets

- water supply, janitorial/sanitation services

- energy sector

- telecommunication companies, internet service provider, cable television provider

- airline and aircraft maintenance, aviation schools

- shipyard operations

Businesses allowed to operate at 50% capacity during ECQ can now open fully.

The following industries are still prohibited from operating: entertainment venues such as theaters; recreational activities such as internet cafes and arcades; amusement parks; indoor and outdoor sports courts; gyms, spas, and swimming pools; outdoor tourist attractions; and indoor tourist attractions such as libraries and museums.

Personal care services, such as salons, nail spas, and aesthetic centers are still not allowed to open based on the recent IATF guidelines. Home service for these activities is also prohibited.

Roque said the Department of Trade and Industry may issue a revised list of industries which will remain prohibited in areas under MECQ when applicable.

The Philippine National Police has earlier barred law enforcers from arresting quarantine violators, adding they cannot impose punishments like exercise.