President Rodrigo Roa Duterte skims through a document as he presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on May 13, 2021. (MNS photo)  

MANILA, May 14 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte has downgraded the quarantine classification in the National Capital Region Plus (NCR Plus) and other areas to a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) from a more restrictive modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Duterte decided to ease quarantine protocols in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, also known as “NCR Plus,” upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Presidential Spokesperson Roque, who was present during a meeting with Duterte at Malacañan Palace, said NCR Plus will be placed under GCQ “with heightened restrictions” from May 15 to 31.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Thursday, May 13, 2021, approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to place the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions from May 15 to 31, 2021,” Roque said in a statement.

Apart from NCR Plus, the quarantine classification in Abra was also downgraded from MECQ to GCQ.

Areas of concern

The MECQ status was, however, retained in the City of Santiago in Isabela, Zamboanga City, Quirino, and Ifugao.

Duterte said the four areas would remain under MECQ until end of May following local governments’ concerns over the spike in the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) within their localities.

GCQ is imposed in Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon, Iligan City, Davao City, Lanao del Sur, and Puerto Princesa City until May 31.

The rest of the country remains under the least restrictive modified GCQ (MGCQ) for the whole month of May.

Implementation of stricter GCQ

Once GCQ with heightened restrictions is implemented in NCR, only “essential travel into and out of the NCR Plus” will be allowed, Roque said.

Roque said interzonal travel from NCR Plus areas, except those conducted by Authorized Persons Outside Residence, will remain prohibited in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions.

“Public transportation shall remain operational at such capacities and protocols in accordance with the Department of Transportation guidelines while the use of active transportation shall be promoted,” he said.

Roque said only individuals aged 18 to 65 can leave their homes while NCR Plus is under stricter GCQ.

Entertainment venues like bars, concert halls, and theaters; recreational venues, such as internet cafes, billiards halls, and arcades; amusement parks,fairs, playgrounds, kiddie rides; indoor sports courts and venues and indoor tourist attractions; and venues for meetings, conferences, exhibitions will not be allowed in NCR Plus, Roque said.

Roque said religious gatherings and gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals for those who died of causes other than Covid-19 in NCR Plus will be allowed up to 10 percent of the venue capacity.

He added that indoor and outdoor dine-in services would be allowed in Metro Manila and its four neighboring provinces.

Also, indoor dine-in services in NCR Plus shall be at 20 percent venue or seating capacity while outdoor or al fresco dining shall be at 50 percent venue or seating capacity,” he said.

Roque said outdoor tourist attractions in NCR Plus may be opened at 30 percent, with “strict” adherence to minimum public health standards.

“Also continued to be allowed in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions are non-contact sports, games, scrimmages held outdoors; and personal care services that allow for services not requiring mask removal, such as salons, parlors, [and] beauty clinics, at 30 percent capacity,” he said.

Further allowed in the NCR Plus, Roque said, are specialized markets of the Department of Tourism, on conditions that minimum public health standards will be followed and protocols set by the Tourism department will be implemented. (MNS)

READ NEXT: Philippines detects India coronavirus variant