[Update: The Governor of Cavite, Jonvic Remulla, has made a statement that they will defer the implementation of a total lockdown in Cavite. Instead, the provincial government will exercise "minimum tolerance" and penalize quarantine violators with fines.]

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There is no doubt that the country has felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For almost 50 days now, the Philippines has put out measures from the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) to help “flatten the curve”. While some provinces or cities have recorded static or declining numbers of infections, the target is to eliminate new infections and increase the number of recoveries.

The province of Cavite, following the announcement of Governor Jonvic Remulla, wants to do just that, and so the Governor has come up with the idea of 14-Day Calibrated Quarantine Operations (CQO) that cover the entire province of Cavite.

The Strict Quarantine will begin at 12:01 AM on May 1 and will last until 5:00 AM on May 15, 2020. The governing guidelines are as follows:

24-Hour Curfew

A strict curfew will be implemented in the entire province of Cavite. Those exempted will only be individuals with quarantine passes – they will be allowed outside only until 6:00 PM. Other individuals who are likewise exempted from the curfew are health care front liners, food handlers (those who work in wet markets, groceries, etc.), banking and financial service workers, and those involved with relief operations.

Essential Businesses will remain open

Businesses dealing with financial services as well as the disbursement of fuel will be allowed to operate during the CQO. Restaurants are also allowed to continue operations, albeit only on delivery and to-go basis. Food establishments are not allowed to accept dine-in customers.

No individuals are allowed to stay outside their premises

In the vernacular, no “tambay” is allowed under any circumstances. This covers even officials who man checkpoints as only a maximum of four (4) people will be allowed, excluding forces of the PNP / AFP. A quarantine pass is only acceptable if an individual is out to take advantage of the above-mentioned services; otherwise, citizens will be subject to fines and/or apprehension. Yes, that means no jogging, brisk walking, or even group Zumba sessions are allowed.

Face masks are mandatory

When going outside one's residence, the use and wearing of a face mask are now deemed mandatory. The province of Cavite has deemed this a non-negotiable part of the CQO and violators will be fined, no questions asked.

Government employees must bring IDs at all times

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) will still be under the jurisdiction of the National Government. Government employees must bring their identification cards with them at all times.

Seniors allowed outside but encouraged to stay home and be safe

In exceptional circumstances that a senior citizen is the only one with a quarantine pass for essential services, he/she will be allowed to go outside. They are, however, encouraged to stay at home unless (already) absolutely necessary and to take great care when out and about.

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Specific areas in the country are either observing ECQ or GCQ, both of which seem to help in flattening the proverbial curve. With the addition of the Calibrated Quarantine Operations put in place, Cavite may be a strong benchmark on the effectiveness of proper quarantine protocols and the enforcement of rules and laws. Let’s hope the good Governor is right.