Since the start of the global pandemic outbreak last March 2020, different community quarantines have been implemented and practiced in scattered areas of the Philippines especially in Luzon island. Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), General Community Quarantine (GCQ), and Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) are considered the critical zone, containment zone, buffer zone and outside the buffer zone, respectively. The main purpose of these is to limit the spread of the virus which the Philippines is intensely facing today.
On the 16th of March 2020, two days after President Duterte declared a community quarantine in Metro Manila, the imposition of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was issued in high-risk areas across the country. It is a mandate in restricting the movements of the population — in other words, a mandatory home quarantine for everyone. Those excluded from the restriction are certain individuals like law enforcement, public officials, health workers, media, and individuals whose purpose is to obtain household necessities. Added to this, only essential businesses and services (such as delivery services, telecommunication companies, energy companies, manufacturing companies, and capital markets) are allowed to operate. Persons not allowed to go out are those aged below 21 and above 60, those with immunodeficiency comorbidities or other health risks, pregnant women, and those who won’t abide by the aforementioned rules. Both public and private transportation systems have also been suspended; the same goes for the physical classes.
Meanwhile, last May 12, 2020, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque introduced a new form of quarantine, which is the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine or MECQ. It limits the movement of the population within the ECQ zone. Persons not allowed to go out are the same with the guidelines provided in ECQ but exercising outdoors, like jogging and biking are allowed on the condition that they wear face masks and stay two meters apart. Essential industries continue to operate at full capacity and workforce in certain businesses and other industries and establishments like jewelry shops, bookstores, clothing stores, film and music production, real estate, beverage makers, and advertising companies can operate at 50% capacity while the rest work from home. Transportation like private shuttles and private cars are allowed, but can only be used for essential work and services. Motorcycles, bicycles, and e-scooters are also allowed with only one rider. In regard to flights, only limited international flights and Filipinos from abroad are permitted to fly home. Gatherings with up to five (5) people are only allowed with health-protocols observed, while physical classes are still suspended.
On the other hand, General Community Quarantine or GCQ, also known as “new normal”, will be implemented in low or moderate risk areas. In this case, all ages from 21 to 59 without coronavirus are allowed to move around for work and obtain essential goods while physical distancing is strictly observed. More industries and establishments can now operate at full capacity, unlike in ECQ and MECQ. Public and private transportation and inter-island travel have been given permission, but with the enforcement of health protocols and safe protocols, respectively. From five (5) people in MECQ, a maximum of 10 people are now allowed to gather. Also, flexible learning arrangements may be made and teachers-physical classes will be regulated. School personnel may now enter school premises to process student requirements for the next school year and graduation ceremonies.
Subsequently, Modified General Community Quarantine or MGCQ was also introduced in conjunction with the announcement of MECQ. It is the lowest form of quarantine which will be observed in low-risk areas. The movement goes back to normal, but wearing face masks is required and physical distancing is still highly observed. Transportation is the same as the situation in GCQ. Operation of all businesses and establishments as well as normal physical classes can be resumed, but with health protocols enforced.
Regardless of any form of quarantine we are in, the utmost priority is the safety and health of the Filipinos against the coronavirus disease as long as a vaccine is yet to be found. Discipline and solidarity are the weapons to combat this pandemic. Our ability to understand and follow the precautions provided is very vital. It is given to have a hard time in this trying season, but we may see this as an opportunity to reflect and get closer to our families.
LAYOUT BY: Laiza Simeoune B. Sanchez
PHOTO SOURCE(S): freepik.com