The government is still finalizing the list of areas under the extended enhanced community quarantine and is set to release the revised version on Wednesday, April 29, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has clarified.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced a list of localities to be placed under the extended ECQ until May 15. Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force approved the list on Monday—a revision from the initial version released on April 24, which contained areas that had to be reevaluated and rechecked.
However, in a later virtual discussion on the National Action Plan, Año clarified that the said list is still up for validation at Wednesday’s IATF meeting. He added that the final announcements will likewise be made on that day.
Under Resolution no. 29, and as announced by Roque, the following regions, provinces, and cities under ECQ from May 1 to 15:
– National Capital Region
– Central Luzon (except for Aurora, which is under general community quarantine)
– Baguio City
– Cebu Province
– Cebu City
– Davao City
In areas under ECQ, stay-at-home rules remain strict, mass transportation is still suspended, and non-essential businesses remain closed to discourage people from going out except for food, banking, and medical runs.
This is the second extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila. Duterte originally scheduled the Luzon-wide quarantine to last only until April 14, but eventually decided to extend it, first until April 30, and eventually until May 15.
Other regions and provinces considered moderate- and low-risk areas will be placed under general community quarantine from May 1 to 15. These areas will have more relaxed lockdown rules and several non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen.
‘LGUs not in list may request for inclusion’
The DILG secretary explained that the authority to declare ECQ in provinces, highly-urbanized cities, and independent component cities rests with the IATF.
However, Año said that should the circumstances call for such need, mayors and governors may still put their areas under ECQ as long as the proposed move is cleared by the regional IATF.
“Kung gusto ni governor mag-declare, i-inform nya ‘yung IATF, sumulat siya duon,” Año said. “Almost everyday naman meeting ng IATF at sila ay masasabihan kaagad kung approved or hindi.”
[Translation: If the governor wants to declare, he or she should write to the IATF. Anyway, the IATF meets almost everyday, so the local government officials will be immediately notified if their request is approved or not.]
Año stressed that indiscriminate declarations by local officials are not allowed, as it is important that the LGUs align with the national plan against COVID-19. He added that analytics on the coronavirus incidence in specific areas are to be considered first by the IATF before permitting such a move.
Transportation for domestic tourists, tests for OFWs
Meanwhile, Roque in his press briefing said the IATF has also given authority to the Department of Tourism to charter and fund sweeper flights for stranded local tourists to return to Metro Manila.
He added that the use of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for OFWs returning from “high-risk” jurisdictions should be explored.
Currently, all returning OFWs undergo testing using rapid antibody test kits.