Over the weekend, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) announced the GCQ bubble for a newly-coined term “NCR Plus”. But what does NCR Plus stand for? And what does it mean for motorists?

NCR Plus covers all the cities in the National Capital Region, along with the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal. Think of it as an extension of NCR. The reason for including these areas is because a significant number of people head into, and out of, the capital for work purposes. This rule will be in place from March 22 (today) to April 4, 2021 (end of Holy Week).

Because of that, those who live in the four provinces mentioned may cross into the capital with no need for travel passes or clearance. However, if an individual needs to head out beyond the four mentioned provinces, they may not do so. That said, there are exemptions to this rule. For as long as it qualifies as essential travel or an emergency, a motorist may cross the border. Essential workers who need to pass through these areas must present the necessary documents for passage.

So for those who are based in NCR Plus planning a Holy Week pilgrimage outside the zone, they will have to cancel that. Per the IATF, all mass gatherings, including most religious congregations, are prohibited. However, weddings, baptisms, and funeral services are allowed for as long as it is limited to ten persons and below.

With GCQ in place within NCR Plus, a curfew between 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM will be implemented. However, essential workers, cargo vehicles, and public transport operators are exempted from the curfew. Also, the IATF announced that driving schools and other establishments are closed for the time being (two weeks). If you are currently employed in sectors deemed essential, only 30 to 50 percent capacity is allowed in the office. For those who rely on public transport to go around town, it will continue to remain operational. However, it will be subject to the guidelines from the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

We will be on the look-out for more updates from concerned agencies. For now, keep travel to a minimum and essential. The past week saw over 7,000 cases daily, peaking at 7,999 last Saturday. As it stands, the Philippines has over 600,000 confirmed cases, ranking it among the highest in Southeast Asia. However, only time will tell if this new preventive measure will be effective in curbing the infection rate.