It's been less than 2 days since President Duterte's administration began the implementation of a “Community Quarantine” of the National Capital Region to control the spread of COVID-19.
The government began the implementation of the initial Community Quarantine within Metro Manila on at midnight on Sunday, March 15. Government agencies such as the Department of Transportation even circulated images of commuters on the MRT maintaining proper “social distancing” yesterday.
What became clear this morning is that it's one thing to implement a quarantine on a Sunday, it's another thing entirely to do it on a workday.
Earlier today during Monday morning rush hours, images circulated the web showing commuters unable to maintain the Department of Health (DOH) recommended “social distancing” given the need to attend work; the initial Community Quarantine did not suspend work in the private sector.
Now, Malacanang is stepping up the effort, but they're not calling it a full lockdown yet. Instead, the government is referring to it as Enhanced Community Quarantine, and yes, it will see the suspension of work in a good portion of the private sector.
In the announcement just made by the President, the Enhanced Community Quarantine will step up the effort to combat the spread of the new coronavirus by covering not just NCR, but all of Luzon.
Under the Enhanced Community Quarantine, we can expect the following:
1. Strict home quarantine to be implemented
2. Public transportation shall be suspended
3. The government will regulate services related to food and health
4. The heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine
Essentially, it's a much stricter lockdown-like situation. But unlike before when the government gave 48 hours before the implementation of the “regular” Community Quarantine, the Enhanced Community Quarantine will be effective immediately. It will be in place until midnight (00:00) of April 13, 2020.
More importantly, the Enhanced Community Quarantine calls for the suspension of work in the private sector beginning March 17 (particularly office-related work) and encourage only work-from-home schemes. The executive branch of the government will maintain a skeletal workforce to be able to deliver services.
The important bit to know is that public transportation is suspended, which covers land transport (PUVs, PUBs, etc.), rail transport (LRT1, LRT2, MRT3, PNR), and more.
The widespread suspension of work in the private sector and the suspension of public transportation means that citizens should have no reason to leave their homes.
The Enhanced Community Quarantine will also restrict personal travel with exemptions for health workers, authorized government officials, and the like. The only exceptions for the general public will be with regards to traveling outside to purchase food or medicines. Public markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, groceries, banks, utilities, so on and so forth.
As with the current checkpoints, uniformed personnel will be monitoring citizens passing through for symptoms.
President Duterte also called on employers to advance the 13th-month pay of their employees on a pro-rated basis.