Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal revert to GCQ until April 4 as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 21) — More areas will be placed under a stricter general community quarantine in order to stop the continuous rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

In an address on Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal will be placed under a stricter general community quarantine as infections rise unabated. The GCQ will be in place from March 22 until April 4.

Citing Resolution No. 104 of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Roque said mass gatherings, including large religious activities, will be prohibited in the meantime.

"Yun pong tinatawag nating KBL — kasal, binyag at libing — ay pinapayagan po, pero hanggang 10 lang po ang pupuwedeng dumalo," said Roque.

[Translation: Weddings, baptisms and funerals are allowed, but only up to 10 people may attend.]

READ: More churches in Metro Manila suspend Holy Week activities as COVID-19 cases spike

Roque said only essential travel will be allowed to and from Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Metro Manila. Those permitted to travel are frontline service personnel, people travelling for humanitarian purposes, anyone crossing zones for business but will be returning home, and passengers going to the airport for trips abroad.

There would be no reduction in public transportation, but passengers still need to wear face masks and face shields. Talking and making phone calls are not allowed inside public transport, while physical distancing must be observed.

IATF Resolution No. 104 also said the current capacities of "essential and non-essential services/industries shall be maintained" but they must be careful not to herd people into communal areas, like pantries and canteens. The private sector is also encouraged to implement a 30 to 50 percent operational capacity arrangement, like the one currently being enforced in the Executive branch.

Roque also reminded people below 18 years old and over 65, as well as pregnant women and those with health risks, to remain at home while the GCQ is in place.

In February, the GCQ status of Metro Manila, Baguio City, Apayao, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City and Lanao Del Sur were extended until the end of March.

On March 20, daily COVID-19 infections in the country reached an all-time high with nearly 8,000 new cases.