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ECQ Season 3: Metro Manila placed under ECQ from August 6 to 20

In file photo: A policeman guards a checkpoint at Barangay 675, Zone 73, District V in Paco, Manila as NCR and surrounding provinces go back to ECQ due to a resurgence of Covid cases.

Prompted by a rise in new Covid-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR), President Duterte decided to place the Metropolis under lockdown next week.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque revealed that the President has approved the recommendation of the  Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to impose enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in NCR from August 6 to 20, 2021,  in a bid to contain an upward trend of virus infection in NCR.

The announcement came a day after the IATF announced the extension of the general community quarantine (GCQ) “with heightened restrictions” classification of NCR  until August 5, 2021.

Roque said there were “long debates” among IATF members before they decided to reconsider their initial decision and push for a lockdown in NCR instead.

In preparation for the ECQ, the government started implementing stricter quarantine measures in NCR from July 30 to August 5, 2021.

These measures include banning  indoor dine-in services and al fresco dining and the operation of indoor sports courts and venues and indoor tourist attractions and specialized markets of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The government also capped to 30 percent the venue capacity of  personal care services, such as beauty salons and parlors, barber shops and nail spas and outdoor tourist attractions as defined by DOT.

A week before the ECQ, Roque said, “only authorized persons outside their residences [APOR] shall be allowed to travel into and out of the NCR Plus Area, which includes Cavite, Bulacan, Laguna, and Rizal.”

Public transportation would still be allowed to operate in the said period along with the government’s vaccination administration activities.

Roque said live religious gatherings will no longer be allowed, but “gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals for those who died of causes other than Covid-19 shall be allowed, provided they are limited to immediate family members.”

The OCTA Research group has recommended the implementation of a two-week lockdown in NCR amid rising Covid-19 cases.

The research group suspected the presence of the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-causing  severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is contributing to the rising increase in infections in the region similar to what happened in other countries like India and Indonesia.

The Delta variant is more infectious and fatal compared to other variants of the SARS-CoV-2.

In a related development, Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado on Friday said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is yet to receive President Duterte’s directive to grant cash to beneficiaries in ECQ zones in NCR.

“We are waiting for a directive from OP [Office of the President]  po and we will coordinate with Neda [National Economic and Development Authority] and DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development],” Avisado told the BusinessMirror.

Asked on the funding source for the cash benefit, the budget chief said   they are planning to source the ayuda from available funds.

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