Health officials said the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that will be imposed on Metro Manila starting Friday might be expanded to include Calabarzon and other areas where COVID-19 is on the rise.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday said there is no definite decision yet on whether Calabarzon will be placed under ECQ, but said a proposal to do so is still being discussed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Duque said that aside from the COVID-19 situation in the area, they need to consider the provision of cash assistance to families affected by a lockdown.
Earlier, the government decided to place Metro Manila under ECQ from Aug. 6 to 20 in light of the threat posed by the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant.
Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla is opposed to subjecting the province to an ECQ but said he would abide by whatever the IATF decision is.
Since last week, there have been 400 to 600 cases a day in Cavite, and some hospitals in the province are now up to 80 percent occupied, Remulla said.
The Aklan provincial government on Wednesday said it was considering asking that it also be placed under the strictest quarantine level as COVID-19 cases continue to spike.
About 80 percent of COVID-19 hospital beds in the province are already occupied, with exhausted health workers appealing for a timeout, said Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores.
Aklan, he said, has tallied 187 coronavirus deaths since last year, including 137 which were recorded in the last three months alone.
“I am talking with the Department of Health regional office, that if the surge continues, Aklan might be placed under the ECQ classification,” Miraflores said.
The Palace on Wednesday said all government agencies in Metro Manila will be fully operational even under the ECQ but with reduced personnel to just 20 percent while the rest would work from home.
However, agencies providing health and emergency frontline services, laboratory and testing services, border control, and other critical services will operate at full capacity.
Malacanang also ordered heads of Metro Manila agencies to report to their department head the “specific percentage of the agency’s skeleton workforce, together with the arrangements to ensure continuing operation of the agency.”
Department heads, however, may modify the submitted on-site capacity and related arrangements “as health considerations and the exigencies of the service may require.”
Legislative and judicial branches of government, independent constitutional bodies, and local government units in Metro Manila were also urged to adopt Memorandum Circular No. 87.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday said only authorized persons outside of residence (APORs) will be allowed to board public transportation during the ECQ.
In a Facebook post, the LTFRB said these APORs will need to show valid ID to prove their eligibility to travel from Aug.6 to 20.
The LTFRB said the maximum allowable capacity is 50 percent or one seat apart in buses and jeeps; two passengers per row and one passenger at the driver’s row for utility vehicles (UV) express, taxis, and transport network vehicle services (TNVS).
Ahead of Friday’s ECQ, Pasay City placed some areas under localized lockdown affecting 40 households in 22 barangays.
As of Tuesday, the local government recorded 58 new active cases of COVID-19, bringing to 14,989 the total active cases reported in the city. It also reported 14,401 total individuals who have recovered from the deadly disease.
Mayor Imelda Rubiano said her administration is doing everything it can to maintain the number of coronavirus cases to the barest minimum while also protecting its borders from the possible entry of Delta variant.
She said they are protecting residents by conducting an intensified information, communication and educational campaign about the dangers of the new variant and the steps to avoid contracting it.
“Despite the slight rise in cases, Pasay still has one of the lowest number of active cases at 80 in Metro Manila, and we are working double time to further bring it down as much as possible,” Rubiano said.
Some banks, meanwhile, announced shorter business hours in areas under the ECQ.
BPI said all branches would be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. while its Iloilo branches would be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Metrobank said all of its branches will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.
Some branches, however, would be open only up to 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. the bank said, asking clients to check its website for a list of branches and their adjusted business hours.
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