MECQ now in effect in Metro Manila and four provinces until August 18

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 4) – Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal are now under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) starting today until August 18.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered on Sunday to implement the MECQ in these four areas as the medical community appealed for tighter quarantine restrictions due to the state of the country’s healthcare system being overwhelmed by the increasing COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks.

Under MECQ, any person below 21 years old and those who are 60 and above are required to stay home, except when obtaining essential goods and services or reporting to work in permitted industries. Those who will travel to work should prepare their company identification cards.

Also prohibited to leave their residences during MECQ are those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women.

Department of Interior and Local Government Usec. Jonathan Malaya confirmed on Monday that quarantine passes will be required once again to limit the people allowed to go out. Philippine National Police spokesperson BGen. Bernard Banac added previously issued quarantine passes are still valid.

Quarantine checkpoints will also be in place not just in all borders of Metro Manila and the four provinces but also between cities and towns under MECQ, Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield Commander Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar stressed.

Public transportation will also remain limited in MECQ areas as only public shuttles dedicated for frontliners and other workers in permitted industries are allowed to ply the roads.

Common public transport services like bus, jeepney, taxi, trains (PNR, LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3), and Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) are prohibited to operate during MECQ. Tricycles will also not be allowed, but with exceptions subject to guidelines of the DILG and local government units.

For private transport, company shuttle will be allowed to operate as long as it follows the 50 percent passenger capacity rule and has a special permit from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

Personal vehicles owned by persons or workers in permitted sectors will also be allowed, given only two persons per row are seated.

Individual use of bicycle, motorcycle, and e-scooter (subject to existing traffic regulations) will also be allowed, with back riding now prohibited.

Domestic flights are not permitted during MECQ, but international flights will remain limited, Transportation Asec. Goddes Libiran said.

All forms of mass gatherings are also prohibited in MECQ areas according to the guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Infectious Diseases. But the same rules allow religious gatherings limited to five people, provision of critical government services, and authorized humanitarian activities.

Face-to-face classes are also not allowed under MECQ.

Also permitted under MECQ are individual outdoor exercises such as outdoor walks, jogging, running, and biking, provided persons are observing minimum health standards in doing these activities.

Some Metro Manila LGUs also announced the re-imposition of curfew and liquor ban in their localities.

To date, the country now has 106,330 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 38,405 active infections. Some 2,104 persons died and 65,821 patients recovered from the virus.