ECQ Guidelines: Malacañang’s Official Memorandums On Lockdown Procedures

The curfew for the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) started March 15, from 8PM to 5AM in six Metro Manila cities (Manila, Makati, Muntinlupa, Navotas, San Juan, and Quezon City) so far.

These are in line with a set of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) community guidelines that Malacañang released last Saturday in an effort to prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus in the country. 

ECQ guidelines in the Philippines

Now that the government has raised Code Red Sub-Level 2 alert over the COVID-19 threat, it is all the more important for Local Government Units and every individual to follow these ECQ guidelines and stay indoors. 

1. Classes and all school activities in all levels are suspended.

The Department of Education is eyeing to open classes August 2020, even for areas where the ECQ has been lifted.

2. Mass gatherings are prohibited, such as the following:

    • Movie screenings
    • Concerts
    • Sporting events
    • And other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work-related gatherings.

3. Essential work-related meetings and religious activities are allowed…

Given that they follow strict social distancing of at least one meter away from each other.

4. The ECQ is imposed over the entire National Capital Region (NCR).

The local government units (LGUs) will be working with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in making sure that the general and enhanced community quarantine are imposed in each of their areas. Below are the definitions of the two types of community quarantine according to the memorandum:

  • General community quarantine—where movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points;
  • ECQ—where strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households; transportation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated; and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented.

The latter is the one that’s being observed all over NCR starting Sunday, March 15, 2020.

Following the qualifications provided by the Inter Agency Task Force, all areas under general community quarantine are expected to implement the following:

  • Restrict the non-essential entry of people to the contained area, especially persons who are at high risk of being infected (i.e., 60 years old and above, immunocompromised or with co-morbidities and pregnant women), except:
    1. Health workers
    2. Authorized government officials
    3. Those travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons
    4. Persons transiting to airports for travel abroad
    5. Persons providing basic services and public utilities
    6. Essential skeletal workforce
  • Prevent the non-essential exit of people out of the contained area, except
    1. Health workers
    2. Authorized government officials
    3. Those travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons
    4. Those who were granted entry based on the above-mentioned provisions, provided that all persons leaving the contained community must be checked for signs and symptoms (e.g., fever, respiratory symptoms, diarrhea) at exit checkpoints where
  • Appropriate certification will be issued by the competent health authority (DOH or provincial/city/municipal health officer)
  • Health authority endorses exiting person to recipient LGU
  • Exiting persons to undertake 14-day home based quarantine
  • LGUs are required to monitor implementation of home-based quarantine.

(Read: Where To Donate Cash And Supplies To Help Fight COVID-19)

According to then presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the DOH and the DILG have the power to direct an LGU to impose the stricter enhanced community quarantine “if circumstances so warrant.”

6. Alternative work arrangements for ECQ and GCQ

This includes but is not limited to, work-from-home, compressed work week, staggered working hours, and creation of skeletal workforces, which will be implemented in the Executive branch during the ECQ.

Further, the memorandum states, “All members of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Coast Guard, and health and emergency frontline services are directed to continue full operation. The Legislative and Judicial Branches, as well as the independent constitutional bodies are encouraged to adopt the same policy”

7. Flexible work arrangements

This is encouraged in the private sector, pertinent to the advisories and guidelines of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

8. All manufacturing, retail, and service establishments are advised to remain open

In all cases, strict social distancing measures are required to be observed by their respective managements under the ECQ.

9. Mass public transport facilities, including the LRT, MRT, and PNR will suspend operations until the ECQ is lifted

For the GCQ, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has issued guidelines to ensure social distancing in these public transports, as well as other means of public transportation.

10. Land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from NCR shall be restricted during the ECQ

All workers, whether employed or self-employed, will be provisionally allowed to travel to and from the NCR, subject to review by the IATF if public health considerations so warrant. Proof of employment and/or business must be presented at border checkpoints.

All departing passengers shall be allowed transit through the NCR. Proof of confirmed international travel itinerary scheduled within 12 hours from entry should be presented at checkpoints. Provided, further, that the aforementioned provisions shall not be interpreted to allow outbound travel to countries where travel restrictions are in place during the ECQ.

Further, the movement of cargoes to and from the NCR, or in such other places which may be subject of a community quarantine, shall be unhampered.

Panelo said, “With respect to the restriction on land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from the NCR, all workers, whether employed or self-employed, will be provisionally allowed to travel. For this purpose, proof of employment and/or business must be presented at border checkpoints.”

LGUs outside of NCR are advised to exercise sound discretion in suspending classes in their areas, provided that measures and arrangements are in place to allow the students to continue fulfilling their requirements, in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd) or Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

11. OFWs will be allowed to travel to mainland China, except to Hubei Province

This is upon execution of a Declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved. In all cases, the DOLE shall issue a health advisory guide to the OFWs, upon departure.

12. Requirements for travelers during the ECQ

Travelers’ coming from Iran and Italy are required to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within 48 hours immediately preceding departure, signifying that the traveler has tested negative for COVID-19. Provided, that this provision does not apply to Filipino citizens including their foreign spouse and children, if any, holders of Permanent Resident Visa, and holders of 9e Diplomat Visas issued by the Philippine Government. All previous travel restrictions issued by the IATF shall remain in effect.

The memorandum also authorized the DOH to grant exemptions based on humanitarian considerations, in favor of outbound travellers going to restricted areas.

Source: Office of the Presidential Spokesperson