President Rodrigo Duterte and the national government have once again placed the most populous areas of the country under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). This move is to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, following calls from the medical sector that has been pushed to its capacity to treat the virus.
The MECQ has officially been implemented in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan, starting today, August 4 at midnight and will last until August 18, 2020. Like before, MECQ comes with its own set of restrictions, particularly for work, travel, and persons allowed to be outside of their homes.
Like before, strict home quarantine will be observed. Persons below 21 years old, persons who are at least 60 years old (senior citizens), persons already at health risk (i.e. immunodeficiency), pregnant women, or even persons that reside with such individuals will have to stay home.
Individuals may only leave their homes to get basic goods and services from specific businesses (like supermarkets, drugstores, banks) or when a person has to go to work at a essential business approved to operate under MECQ.
- Only APORs can go out
Exemptions to the quarantine and travel restrictions are Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR).
An APOR is any government employees (i.e. law enforcement, health officials), emergency respondents, healthcare workers, delivery workers, bank staff, supermarket staff, basic utility employees (i.e. power company) or other personnel deemed to be essential to the operation of essential services. If you are not an APOR (you don't work in any of these essential services), stay home.
Once again, the government will deploy checkpoints to inspect the IDs and credentials of those outside of their homes. Expect checkpoints will be manned by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and (but not limited to) members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, healthcare officials and staff, and the like.
These checkpoints will cause traffic build up due to the need to inspect each vehicle and its passengers. If any driver or passenger is found not to be an APOR or is outside their home for non-essential reasons, they will be charged for violation of quarantine measures, forced to turn back or worse, given fines and penalties.
- No public transport
Buses, jeepneys, taxis, and TNVS will not be allowed to operate under MECQ. Tricycles are not allowed, but there will be exceptions depending on the guidelines by the DILG and LGUs. The Department of Transportation will be suspending public transportation such as all railways (PNR, LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3) under the MECQ.
Companies that are allowed to operate under MECQ must secure or contract private shuttles for their employees, but each vehicle will be at 50% capacity only. Under MECQ, shuttles will have to acquire a special permit from the LTFRB in order to operate
- No backriding again
If you are an APOR (with correct and valid identification or papers), you may drive your personal motor vehicles. Private vehicles can also be used for persons procuring basic goods and services. Motorcycles will be allowed. Despite backriding recently allowed again, under MECQ, backriding of any kind, even with the barrier, will not be permitted. Only a single rider (who must be an APOR) will be allowed.