Starting August 21, Metro Manila and Laguna won't be under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) anymore. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) confirmed that both regions will be downgraded from ECQ to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) beginning August 21 until 31, 2021.

Aside from Metro Manila and Laguna, the IATF also announced that MECQ will be implemented in Bataan from August 23 to 31.

Despite shifting to a (slightly) more relaxed quarantine status, the IATF says strict implementation of granular lockdowns in areas with high COVID cases will continue. In addition, local government units are directed to improve their vaccination rates and intensify strategies to control the spread of the virus.

Similar to ECQ, movement will still be limited under MECQ. Only APORs or authorized persons outside of residence are allowed to be out and about. Everyone else is advised to stay at home. Meanwhile, establishments and industries allowed to operate during ECQ will be allowed to operate at full on-site capacity. Other businesses will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

Unlike the previous implementation of MECQ, the IATF says indoor and al-fresco dine-in services are prohibited along with personal care services, such as beauty salons, beauty parlors, barbershops, and nail spas. Meanwhile, religious gatherings shall remain strictly virtual in NCR, Bataan, and Laguna. However, there's no word if the 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM curfew will be adjusted.

Metro Manila, Laguna, and Bataan were placed under ECQ from August 6 to 20 to address the rising cases and reduce the spread of the deadly Delta variant. But despite the strict lockdown, cases continue to rise - averaging around 12,000 new cases per day.

With the pandemic still posing a threat, it’s best that we stay home unless we have to buy essential needs.