Work meetings, religious activities are the only gatherings allowed in Metro Manila under quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 14) — The guidelines for the implementation of a community quarantine on Metro Manila are out, prohibiting all mass gatherings in the coronavirus-hit region – with few exceptions.

Under the memorandum on social distancing and other measures to manage the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 outbreak, the following activities and events are banned from March 15 to April 14:

- movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment activities

- community assemblies

- non-essential work-related gatherings

Meanwhile, "essential work-related meetings and religious activities may continue," the memorandum states, as long as social distancing measures are followed. This means attendees should maintain a one-meter distance from each other.

The Department of Industry was tasked to ensure that private establishments strictly comply with the social distancing protocol.

Malacañang finally released these guidelines on Saturday, in a bid to answer the questions raised following President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement of a 30-day "lockdown" of the National Capital Region. The memorandum was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea by the order of the President.

Under the memo, classes and all school activities in Metro Manila will remain suspended until April 14, and not April 12 as earlier declared by the President.

Who can enter, leave Metro Manila?

Land, local air, local sea travel to and from Metro Manila shall be restricted, but workers will be "provisionally allowed" to enter and leave the region, once they present proof of employment or business at border checkpoints.

Those leaving for abroad will also be allowed to enter Metro Manila, where the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is located, but they have to present proof that they have a flight scheduled in the next 12 hours.

Movement of cargoes to and from Metro Manila will continue, as earlier announced by authorities to ensure that the supply of food and basic necessities remains unhampered.

General or enhanced quarantine

"A community quarantine is hereby imposed over the entire NCR," the memorandum highlights, but the extent of travel restrictions would vary per area.

Local government units can either impose a general or enhanced community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions, subject to the directives of the Departments of Health and Interior and Local Government.

Under a general quarantine, "movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points," the memorandum reads.

To implement a general community quarantine, people are prohibited from entering and leaving a contained area, except: health workers, authorized government officials, those traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons, persons transiting to the airport for travel abroad, workers providing basic services and public utilities, and essential skeletal workforce.

All persons leaving the quarantined community will be checked for signs and symptoms linked to coronavirus infection, including fever, respiratory symptoms, and diarrhea. Upon reaching their destination outside Metro Manila, they will be placed under a 14-day home quarantine, to be monitored by the respective local government units.

On the other hand, under an enhanced community quarantine, "strict home quarantine shall be implemented in households; transporation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated; and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented."

Majority of the country's more than 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases are confined at hospitals in Metro Manila. Quezon City, the most populous city in the region has six cases, prompting Mayor Joy Belmonte to declare on Friday a state of calamity in the city.

San Juan City earlier reported nine cases, the most number of cases in a Metro Manila city or municipality.

Eight people have died of COVID-19 in the country.

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who exhibit virus symptoms.