It looks like our healthcare workers’ pleas haven’t fallen on deaf ears: Late in the evening of August 2, authorities announced that Metro Manila will be returning to a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) following a request by frontliners for a “timeout” as they try to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
What does the return to MECQ entail? Back in May, we wrote an explainer discussing the differences between quarantine classifications. Do note that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) may amend the previous guidelines, but based on the past MECQ period, here’s what we can expect:
Is this immediate?
No. Metro Manila’s shift back to MECQ will happen at midnight on August 4, 2020. The provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal will all revert to MECQ as well.
What does this mean for commuters?
Well, most of you guys won’t be doing much commuting. The public-transport ban is back, meaning there will be no train lines (MRT-3, LRT-1 and LRT-2, and PNR), public buses, jeepneys, transport network vehicle services (TNVS) like Grab and Angkas, and taxis to ferry you around the city.
Some tricycles will remain operational, but this will be subject to local government unit (LGU) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) guidelines. Shuttles for healthcare workers and other frontline personnel will also be available.
Can I drive out in my car?
That depends. According to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), only authorized persons outside residences (APOR) are allowed to drive around in private vehicles. Cars are also only allowed to carry a maximum of two people per row, so if you own a three-row SUV, that’s just six people. Company shuttles are permitted, but they can carry only up to half of their maximum passenger capacity.
Can I ride out on my motorcycle?
Again, you must be an APOR to ride out. Under MECQ, the DOTr says that no passengers are allowed on a motorbike—just a lone rider. These guidelines apply to bicycles and electric scooters as well.
How long will this last?
According to the announcement, Metro Manila’s MECQ will last for 15 days. If this isn’t extended or upgraded to an even stricter quarantine, expect quarantine restrictions to loosen up after August 18, 2020.
Again, this is a developing story—we will keep you posted on the full guidelines as soon as they are announced by the IATF. For a full list of APORs, you can check out this story from back in April. You might also find our breakdown of what stores and businesses are allowed to operate under MECQ pretty useful.