Metro Manila under tight lockdown again

Credit to Author: Lisbet K. Esmael| Date: Mon, 03 Aug 2020 16:38:57 +0000

Public transport will be halted, business that had reopened will be shuttered again and government offices will be closed for the next two weeks beginning today, August 4, as Metro Manila returns to a stringent modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

PANIC BUYING Residents scramble to buy food and other essentials at the Blumentritt Market in Manila on Aug. 3, 2020 prior to the reimposition of the MECQ in Metro Manila and nearby provinces on Aug. 4, 2020. PHOTO BY MICHELLE ALQUINTO

The new restrictions were announced by President Rodrigo Duterte late Sunday to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), which has killed more than 2,000 people in the country.

Once again, trains will be grounded, and jeepneys, taxis and other public transportation which had been allowed to operate during the general community quarantine will be grounded.

Domestic flights and shipping were also canceled .

People have been ordered to stay home unless they need to buy essential goods or exercise outdoors.

Only a limited number of businesses will be allowed to operate and restaurants will be permitted to do take-aways only.

Also affected are barbershops, sports facilities and tattoo parlors.

“We really fell short. Nobody anticipated this,” Duterte said, as he rejected calls for the Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd to be sacked. “Nobody expected that thousands will get sick on a single day.”

The move comes after 80 medical associations representing tens of thousands of doctors on Saturday called for Duterte to tighten virus restrictions as hospitals, unable to cope with the influx of patients, turned people away.

More than 5,000 medical workers have contracted the virus, including 500 in the past week, Health department figures show.

The government has blamed poor compliance with virus restrictions for the sharp increase in infections which have been concentrated in Manila and Cebu City in Central Visayas.

In a bid to curb rampant local transmission, police have been deployed to force people who have tested positive for the virus and cannot self-isolate at home into government-run quarantine facilities.

Despite the grim trajectory, Duterte has been reluctant to reimpose a lockdown after the previous stay-at-home order took a heavy toll on the economy and threw millions out of work.

Data to be released on Thursday is expected to show the economy tumbled into recession in the first half.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Monday said quarantine passes would again be required under MECQ.

Only shuttle services, bicycles and motorcycles will be allowed.

Tricycles will be subject to the local government guidelines, Año said.

LtGen. Guillermo Eleazar said police officers would be assigned to checkpoints on the boundaries of the MECQ areas.

Under MECQ, only one person per household will be allowed to go out to purchase necessities.