ENHANCED Community Quarantine: Who Can Go In and Out of Luzon?

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On March 12, President Duterte placed the entire Metro Manila under community quarantine in response to the rising COVID-19 cases. The policy was further expanded into “enhanced community quarantine” on March 16, this time encompassing the whole of Luzon. The government prohibited people from going in and out of the capital region until April 13. The public will observe strict home quarantine, and are therefore discouraged from going outdoors.

There are, however, exemptions on travel restrictions for certain people, according to the memorandum from the executive secretary. Here, we summarized who can go in and out of Luzon from March 17 to April 14, 2020.

Workers

In general, the private sector and the executive branch will follow a work from home arrangement. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier released a statement advocating for this, along with other flexible work arrangements, including telecommuting, reduction of workdays or work hours, rotation of workers, and/or implementation of forced leaves. 

Other professionals, however, will be exempted from travel restrictions, which include those working in these industries:

  • Retail, food, and healthcare, particularly workers in supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, pharmacies, food preparation and delivery services, and banks, among many others.
  • Business process outsourcing, provided that they follow social distancing measures and that firms provide appropriate temporary accommodation arrangements.
  • Media. Journalists and reporters need to secure an identification card from the Presidential Communications Operations Office to travel within the quarantine zone.

It remains unknown how workers can travel to and within Luzon, considering that mass public transport operations are suspended.

Cargo Delivery Personnel

The movement of cargoes within, to, and from the region will not be affected. In the guideline released previously for Metro Manila lockdown, trucks would have to secure a permit from the Philippine Ports Authority to access Manila ports. Ships, on the other hand, are advised to call at stations outside NCR upon applying for a special permit with the Maritime Industry Authority, as stated in this report

Under the expanded community quarantine, guidelines for the accompanying crew of cargoes will be drafted by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Departing and Arriving Passengers

If you have a scheduled flight, you can likewise be granted entry to Luzon. In the guidelines set under the general community quarantine, you need to present proof of your travel happening within 12 hours of getting inside NCR. 

While there are no specific provisions like this in the enhanced community quarantine, it’s still best to have these documents prepared when going through checkpoints. To reduce the hassle, some travelers who are waiting for their scheduled flights chose to remain in the region before the lockdown started, staying in some hotels, serviced apartments, or rooms for rent in Metro Manila.

Keep in mind that travel bans to certain countries are still in place. This includes mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau. If you’re going to China as a returning overseas Filipino worker, however, you simply have to sign a declaration signifying that you know and understand the risks involved in the travel. This travel ban exemption does not include OFWs going to Hubei province though.

South Korean municipalities, including North Gyeongsang, particularly Daegu city and Cheongdo County, are included in the travel ban as well.

Meanwhile, arriving international passengers will also be granted access to Luzon. Those who came from countries with existing travel bans will undergo quarantine though.

Government Officials

Since the enhanced community quarantine regulates strict home quarantine, local government officials would deliver basic goods to the public. President Duterte said that it’s the duty of mayors and barangay captains to provide food to constituents, as reported in this Rappler report. 

For the national government’s part, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will be in charge of distributing food assistance to the most affected residents of the entire Luzon, as stated in the memorandum.

In the previous guidelines, everyone who goes in and out of the NCR will be checked for Covid-19 symptoms. Those who exhibit fever, coughs, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, and/or diarrhea will be recommended for 14-day quarantine, which the local government units would monitor. While the new memorandum didn’t mention anything about this, the inspections at checkpoints may still continue.

As of writing, the Department of Health recorded a tally of 142 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the death toll standing at 12. Worldwide, it has infected more than 170,000 people and claimed over 6,500 lives. To date, Italy has the highest number of cases in the world, recording almost 25,000.

Labeling it as a pandemic, the World Health Organization acknowledged that the virus has spread over several countries and continents and affected a large fraction of the population.

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