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No Public Transport, Advanced 13th Month, and Food Assistance: What Exactly is 'Enhanced Community Quarantine?'

More specific details emerged about the ECQ after President Duterte’s statement Monday night.
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Immediately after President Rodrigo Duterte’s address to the nation about the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), extending it to the entire island of Luzon, officials of the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) faced members of the press to discuss the guidelines in greater detail. 

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles read a prepared statement from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea that laid down the specific guidelines for the ECQ. In a nutshell, the idea is to get everybody in Luzon to stay home to try and stop the continued spread of the coronavirus that has so far claimed the lives of 12 people and infected a total of 142 in the Philippines.

Here is the rest of the guidelines of the ECQ:

1| Classes and all school activities in all levels shall continue to be suspended until 14 April 2020 and shall resume on 15 April 2020.

2| Mass gatherings are prohibited.

3| Strict home quarantine shall be observed in all households. Movement shall be limited to accessing basic necessities; provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated; and there will be heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures.

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4| Work-from-home arrangement shall be implemented in the government’s Executive branch, except the PNP, AFP, PCG, and health and emergency frontline services, border control and other critical services, which shall ensure a skeletal work force.

5| Only private establishments providing basic necessities and such activities related to food and medicine production shall be open.

The list of private establishments include public markets, supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, banks, money transfer services, power, energy, water and telecommunications supplies and facilities. 

The open establishments will only have a skeleton workforce to support operations, and will adopt strict social distancing measures.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) and export-oriented industries shall also remain operational, subject to the condition that strict social distancing measures are observed, their respective personnel are provided, appropriate temporary accommodation arrangements by 18 March 2020, and that a skeleton work force shall be implemented. 

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This means that travel to and from these establishments will be allowed for regular citizens.

6| Mass public transport facilities shall be suspended. This includes LRT, MRT, PNR and local and provincial buses. Sec. Nograles also clarified that Transport Network Vehicles Services (TNVS), such as Grab will also be suspended during this period.

7| Land, air and sea travel shall be restricted.

Outbound passengers that will depart the Philippines from any of the international airports in Luzon will be allowed to travel for a period of 72 hours from effectivity of the ECQ; inbound international passengers, in transit upon effectivity of the ECQ, shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions imposed by the IATF. 

Inbound Filipino citizens including their foreign spouse and children, holders of Permanent Resident Visa, and holders of 9(e) Diplomat Visas issued by the Philippine Government shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions imposed by the IATF.

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The movement of cargo within, to and from the entire Luzon shall be unhampered. For this purpose, guidelines for the accompanying crew or personnel of transiting cargoes shall be formulated by the Department of Transportation;

Land, air and sea travel of uniformed personnel for official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to the COVID-19, and other humanitarian assistance, shall be allowed. 

8| The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), in coordination with other government agencies will formulate programs, projects and measures to help workers and residents affected by the ECQ. The measures include a moratorium on lease rentals, advancing a pro-rated 13th month pay, reprieve in utility bills, and assistance to micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.

The DSWD will also expedite the distribution of food assistance to the most-affected residents of the entire Luzon.

Sec. Nograles added that failure to abide by the foregoing guidelines and measures shall be subjected to criminal and/or administrative sanctions, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, adding that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will initiate appropriate charges if needed.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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