Thursday, September 16, 2021

Border checkpoints back as Metro Manila braces for lockdown

MANILA. Checkpoints at all points of entry to Metro Manila are back. (File)

POLICEMEN began enforcing strict border control protocols at all points of entry to Metro Manila at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, August 1, 2021, six days ahead of the reimposition of an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the region in a bid to curb transmission of the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.

Quarantine control points (QCPs) were set up at borders of the National Capital Region (NCR) with the provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Laguna and Rizal.

Only authorized persons outside residence (Apor) with IDs issued by regulatory agencies, and valid IDs or pertinent documentation issued by establishments allowed to operate under ECQ are allowed to pass through the checkpoints.

“Those found to be un-authorized person outside of residence (UPOR) will not be allowed to pass and will be asked to return to their homes,” said Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Eduardo Año.

“We have instructed all QCPs to allow the unimpeded movement of cargo trucks and delivery vehicles across all our checkpoints,” he added.

Metro Manila, home to around 13 million people, will revert to ECQ on August 6 to 20. It is under general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened and additional restrictions until August 5.

In the amended guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine in the Philippines issued by the IATF on May 20, areas placed under ECQ should observe the following protocols:

  • Minimum health protocols such as the wearing of face masks and face shield and the observance of physical distancing shall be strictly imposed at all times.
  • Movement of all persons shall be limited to accessing goods and services from permitted establishments and for work in such establishments.
  • Allowed to operate at full on-site capacity are the following: public and private hospitals; health emergency-related services; medicine manufacturers and its related services; food and other essential goods services; logistics; priority construction projects; companies that manufacture, distribute, and/or supply equipment or products necessary to perform construction or maintenance works, such as cement and steel, or spare part; essential retail trade and service establishments such as public markets, supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies or drug stores, hardware, office supplies, bicycle shops, laundry shops, and water-refilling stations; food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries, but limited to take-out and delivery; public and private financial service providers involved in the distribution of government grants and amelioration subsidies; business process outsourcing establishments (BPOs); and export-oriented businesses, including mining and quarrying activities.
  • Public transport providers and operators are allowed to operate with 100 percent on-site capacity.
  • Media establishments and their total permanent staff complement, inclusive of reporters and other field employees are allowed only at a maximum of 50 percent on-site capacity.
  • Only a skeleton on-site workforce is allowed in: dental, rehabilitation, optometry, and other medical clinics for the treatment of illness or injuries and veterinary clinics; banks and other financial services; water supply and janitorial/sanitation services and facilities; energy sector; telecommunications; airline, aircraft and other related services; funeral services; printing establishments; establishments engaged in repair and maintenance of machinery and equipment, for households and essential permitted establishments; leasing or real and personal properties; employment and recruitment services; legal services; schools and non-critical government agencies.
  • All forms of gatherings are prohibited aside from gatherings that are essential for the provision of health services, government services, or humanitarian activities authorized by the appropriate government agency or instrumentality shall be allowed.
  • Face-to-face or in-person classes at all levels shall be suspended.

Vaccination of priority groups against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) will continue.

Other areas under ECQ are Iloilo City and Province, Cagayan de Oro City and Gingoog City.

Meanwhile, areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the second most stringent community quarantine level, from August 1 to 15 are Bataan, Ilocos Norte and the entire Cebu Province, including the highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.

IATF Resolution No. 130-A, which was issued on July 29, also directed all local government units to:
  • Shorten detection to isolation/quarantine interval to less than five days;
  • Prioritize facility-based isolation and quarantine to prevent household transmission;
  • Make health care capacities and systems readily available and accessible in preparation for spikes in cases;
  • Ramp up vaccination among A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (persons with underlying conditions) to reduce incidence of severe disease and deaths, as well as continue vaccination of A4 (essential workers and other workers who need to physically report for work);
  • Strictly enforce border control protocols at all ports of entry;
  • Continuously assess Covid-19 situation at all levels; and
  • Disseminate information on the variants of concern to counter misinformation and disinformation.

The variants of concern are Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P.1) and Delta (B.1.617.2).

Among these, Delta is the most infectious as it contains mutations that allow the virus to efficiently attach itself to the human host cells and multiply swiftly.

As of July 28, there have been 216 Delta cases in the country with eight deaths, 1,856 Alpha cases with 117 deaths and 2,146 Beta cases with 74 deaths. There remained only two Gamma cases. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)


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