Manila, Philippines — As the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continues to rise, the president hears the appeal of the medical community by reverting Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal back to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) starting August 4 until August 18, 2020.
But what is MECQ?
MECQ is the transition part in-between ECQ (termed for total lockdown) and GCQ (more relaxed quarantine), and special guidelines are needed to be observed especially for businesses.
Businesses allowed to operate under MECQ
More businesses are determined by the IATF-EID to be allowed to operate under MECQ than ECQ, but much lesser from GCQ. While government employees, accredited diplomatic missions, and international organizations only can work on-site in a skeletal workforce.
Hotels and similar institutions are not allowed to open except those who are exempted by the IATF-EID guidelines.
Businesses and industries with essential services such as hospitals, public utilities, logistics services are allowed to operate.
BPO companies that comply with certain requirements (like their employees working on site are given accommodations and private shuttle services while the rest work from home) can continue to operate.
Travel agencies, sports facilities, and cinemas are not allowed to operate.
Real estate services, funeral services, veterinary clinics, security, and investigation activities are subject to conform with no more than 50% or workers on-site.
Restaurants are allowed for take-out and delivery only and can only partially operate.
Malls are open but only limited to essential services.
Unauthorized public gatherings are not permitted under MECQ and highly restricted up to a maximum of 5.
Can we travel during MECQ?
People can go outside to do their necessary errands but prohibited to person below twenty-one (21) years old, those who are sixty (60) years old and above, those with health risks condition, and pregnant women.
No domestic flights are allowed. Only limited international flights are permitted and mostly controlled inbound travel for our returning fellow Filipinos only.
This also implies that quarantine passes are required to limit the people allowed to go out, and only one pass per household is issued to purchase necessities like food and medicines.
Land travel would be difficult again as public transportation will be suspended starting midnight tonight.
Only public shuttle services for frontliners and workers in allowed industries are permitted to operate.
The following modes of public transportation will not be allowed in areas under MECQ:
- Technology- and app-based transport network vehicle service (TNVS like Grab)
- Tricycles (but with exceptions, subject to the guidelines set by the Department of the Interior and Local Government and respective local government units)
- Philippine National Railways, Light Rail Transit Line 1 and Line 2, and Metro Rail Transit Line 3
For private transport, the following will be permitted:
- Company shuttle with a passenger capacity of 50% and a special permit from LTFRB for rented shuttles
- Personal vehicles owned by workers in permitted sectors with only two people per row
- Individual use of bicycle, motorcycle or e-scooter by people are allowed to go out
The government encourages people to use motorbikes, e-scooter, and bicycles for commuting to places especially going to work.
And there would be a strict implementation of checkpoints in borders between areas under MECQ and GCQ.
For individuals who need to travel intercity, only health and emergency personnel, government officials, front line personnel and persons that need to travel for are only allowed to travel to and from areas under different levels of quarantine, just always be reminded to bring your company ID and other necessary documents at all times as proof of where you work or live.
While other parts of the country are still under a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ), all authorized persons outside residences must follow social distancing measures, to wear face masks in public places at all times, and frequently sanitize and wash their hands.
For those who live in areas under MECQ, be reminded with these guidelines, and safely stay at home when no necessary outside errands are needed. During this time, health should be our first priority, and for our postponed travel plans let’s be more optimistic, re-plan, and re-schedule for better itineraries. To everyone stay healthy and keep safe.