Back to Work? Check Your Modified ECQ Starter Pack

On May 12, 2020, after the address of President Duterte, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cebu City will be placed under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) starting May 16. Roque mentioned that while these are still high-risk areas due to the COVID-19 crisis, MECQ is implemented to allow the gradual reopening of industries and the Philippine economy.

With selected industries resuming operations under the new MECQ, employees of these businesses need to take extra caution when planning to resume their routine of going to work every day. 

Here’s what you should have in your back-to-work starter pack under MECQ.

Face Masks and Other PPEs

For almost two months, people under ECQ and GCQ have learned to live with wearing face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) when going out. PPEs are meant to reduce the risk of contamination from the virus and to avoid exposing others in case one is sick or exhibits COVID-19 symptoms.

With a handful of industries opening again, wearing your face mask and other PPEs is extremely important. MECQ areas are high-risk areas for a second wave of the pandemic, and mass testing procedures still need to be improved. While you’re certain that you’re healthy enough to not be easily infected with the novel coronavirus or any other sicknesses, it is essential to follow strict laws of wearing PPEs when going out to avoid compromising your health and safety.

Carpooling Apps or List of Commuting Options

As part of the new normal, areas under ECQ strictly observe social distancing when queueing for the stores or commuting. The good news is that public transportation systems all over Metro Manila and other MECQ areas will implement a one-seat-apart rule for passengers to avoid close physical contact. Public utility jeepneys have installed plastic sheet dividers for each passenger to serve as a protective barrier against viral contamination.

While these preventive measures ensure a safer commute for employees, it can still be a hassle for many, as the partial resumption of public transportation strictly limits the number of passengers getting on board. You might not be able to fully resume your former travel-to-work routine in this case. 

If commuting via public transport won’t work for you every day, try carpool services available in your area. For example, offers thousands of listings, including rides in Metro Manila and in provincial cities such as Bacoor, Dasmariñas, Angeles City, and Lapu-Lapu City. 

If your office offers shuttle services to their employees, maximize that to save money and avoid the hassle of waiting to board the next jeepney or bus. Not only are carpooling services convenient, but they are also a safe option for you to commute without compromising social distancing and your punctuality at work.

Your “Disinfection Checklist” After Getting Home

Along with wearing PPEs and observing social distancing, maintaining personal hygiene and cleanliness is still of utmost importance during the MECQ. Disinfect and wash your hands after touching surfaces while commuting and working, to keep the virus spread at bay. 

Shower after coming home from work and wash the clothes you’ve worn outside. Take a shower to wash away any virus that you may have caught on your way home–and to stay fresh in the scorching summer heat.

Alarm Clocks and Vitamins 

Part of preparing to go back to work is strengthening your immune system. Sure, PPEs, cleanliness, and social distancing are imperative measures in protecting yourself, but boosting your immune system ensures a healthy body inside and out. Set a healthy sleep schedule to help you adapt to the new normal of going to work during MECQ.

Getting enough sleep will help you be well-rested for the day you commute and start working in your office again. Science shows that getting enough sleep at night helps your body produce the right amount of cytokines, which is a  kind of protein that helps in fighting infections and inflammation. Sleep deprivation lowers your body’s production of cytokines and can lead to nausea, fatigue, and lack of focus throughout the day.

Schedule of Shuttle Services or List of Company-provided Accommodations 

Despite a handful of industries and offices in both private and public sectors opening and resuming operations, commuting under MECQ may still be inconvenient for many employees, especially those living far from their workplaces. While some BPO companies offer shuttle service for all their employees, it can still be a hassle for employees in the graveyard shift. Commuting at night is strictly prohibited in areas under ECQ. 

As a solution, some companies have converted their open offices into temporary sleeping quarters to accommodate their employees. These offices also offer food, hygiene products, and laundry services for their employees who stay in the office for the time being. Other companies rented condominiums and apartments to accommodate employees. 

While MECQ comes with many adjustments and changes for employees and employers, all these changes will lead to the new normal, where everyone understands the importance of cleanliness and social distancing. Even after the quarantine period, always remember to keep yourself healthy and safe.


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