Late last Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal will revert back to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ). For 2 weeks, the following locations will revert to the stricter set of quarantine protocols in order to try and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The move to go from General Community Quarantine (GCQ) back to MECQ means certain business activities, government services, as well as modes of public transportation will have to suspend operations or scale down their workforce/activities. With that in mind, it looked like people decided to get all of the necessary supplies yesterday as the return of MECQ loomed.

Traffic grips Metro Manila, surrounding provinces hours before MECQ image

True enough, Metro Manila, along with its neighboring provinces, experienced a significant amount of traffic. With MECQ set to last for two weeks, some opted to 'panic-buy' as a way to stock up food and other supplies. And with almost everyone having the same idea, people flocked to the nearest supermarkets, shopping malls, as well as banks.

Traffic grips Metro Manila, surrounding provinces hours before MECQ image

Aside from that, traffic jams were also experienced along various thoroughfares and highways. From EDSA, C-5, Ortigas Avenue, Marcos Highway, and Commonwealth Avenue, it seemed that almost everyone was looking to get things done before MECQ takes into effect. Even major expressways like NLEX, SLEX, and CAVITEX were hounded by congestion as people tried to get back home as stricter checkpoints return.

Traffic grips Metro Manila, surrounding provinces hours before MECQ image

Almost every mode of public transportation has to pause operations as well during the MECQ. This means that commuters that usually rely on rail, bus, jeepneys, taxis, and TNVS will have to resort to other means of getting to and from their place of work. And with that, commuters swarmed public utility vehicles yesterday in a bid to get home as soon as possible, with little to no regard for physical distancing.

While yesterday's horrendous traffic looked like one of the worse ones amid the pandemic, it's actually not that different from what happened five months ago just before the government declared ECQ in Luzon for the first time. What's different now, however, is that the medical system is on the brink of being overwhelmed once more due to the rapid spike of COVID-19 cases during GCQ.

Traffic grips Metro Manila, surrounding provinces hours before MECQ image

Hopefully, these two weeks of MECQ will give our medical front-liners a breather in the fight against the virus. As it stands, the country now has over 106,000 confirmed cases.