Metro Manila, six provinces to shift to MECQ

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 10) — Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal will transition to a more relaxed quarantine status beginning April 12 after being placed under the tightest restrictions for two weeks due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Greater Manila area will be placed under the modified enhanced community quarantine until April 30, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced on Sunday.

The provinces of Quirino and Abra, and Santiago City in Isabela, will also be placed under MECQ starting tomorrow until end of April.

The country recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic on Friday as the government reported the death of 401 people due to COVID-19. On Saturday, the Philippines logged a new record of 190,245 active cases, its highest number for the third consecutive day.

The nationwide COVID-19 case tally is at 864,868, including 11,681 new cases on Sunday. The number of survivors, meanwhile, surged to a new high with 55,204 more recoveries.

The government first imposed MECQ in Metro Manila and Laguna from May 16 to 31 last year after two months of ECQ. The rest of Greater Manila, meanwhile, shifted to the more relaxed general community quarantine during the same period. 

Metro Manila and Laguna joined nearby provinces under GCQ in June of the same year to slowly revive the economy.

MECQ was reimposed in the Greater Manila area from Aug. 4 to 18, 2020 in response to a call by the medical community to tighten quarantine restrictions amid an overwhelmed healthcare system and "burned out" frontline medical workers. 

After months of eased restrictions, the area reverted to ECQ starting March 29 due to another surge in COVID-19 cases.

Roque said Metro Manila hospitals have committed to providing an additional 164 ICU beds and 1,157 regular beds for COVID-19 patients as of Sunday morning.

This commitment to boost the bed capacity for coronavirus cases, Roque said, prompted the government to ease restrictions to MECQ.

Meanwhile, more details of the new quarantine classifications will be discussed in Roque's briefing tomorrow, April 12.

In a separate statement, Metro Manila mayors will be implementing unified curfew hours from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning tomorrow until the end of MECQ on April 30.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos said local chief executives, under the new rules approved by the IATF, have the power to adjust curfew hours in the National Capital Region.

Authorized persons outside of residence remain exempted from the curfew, the council said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry said outdoor dining will be allowed in areas under MECQ but only at 50% capacity. It added that diagonal seating or tables with acrylic dividers shall be implemented.