For those living in NCR and the surrounding provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan, ECQ or enhanced community quarantine has been extended for another week. That means these areas fall under the strictest category of quarantines until April 11, 2021. However, ECQ this time around isn't as restrictive as last year, and the Department of Transport (DOTr) has released guidelines for traveling in what some people dubbed ECQ 2.0.

Unlike last year, public transport is allowed, but with several safety measures included. Be it land, air, or sea, the DOTr set “seven commandments” that all commuters must follow.

  1. All commuters must wear face masks and face shields

  2. Talking and making telephone calls are not allowed on board

  3. No eating in public transit

  4. PUVs must be kept well-ventilated

  5. Frequent disinfection of these vehicles is a must

  6. Passengers exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms are not allowed inside PUVs

  7. All must observe the appropriate physical distancing rule.

But what about road travel? For private vehicles, there are little to no restrictions. Just remember that only APOR (Authorized Person Outside Residence) identified by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) will be allowed for essential travel. Recreational travel is not allowed during ECQ, so anyone thinking about going for a drive with buddies shouldn't head out right now. Yes, the roads are wide open, but it's not an excuse to go out randomly for a “chill drive”. Also, take note of the curfew in ECQ areas. It starts at 6:00 PM and ends at 5:00 AM.

As for commuters who need to use PUBs (public utility buses) and PUJs (public utility jeepneys), note that these are only operational at half capacity for the time being. Passengers must observe the one-seat apart rule, and standing passengers are not allowed. For van shuttles (UV Express, etc.), only two passengers per row are allowed with no more than 50 percent capacity. Taxi cabs and TNVS are allowed to operate during ECQ, but only two passengers are allowed at the rear seats.

Last week, we saw consecutive days of over 10,000 new cases despite the lockdown. With the way things are going now, it might not be a surprise if ECQ will be extended within the affected zones again. That said, we will know how effective ECQ 2.0 is from future reports.