Despite COVID-19 surge, staycations within NCR Plus bubble still allowed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 21) — Staycations are still allowed within Metro Manila and the four nearby provinces covered by the two-week general community quarantine bubble from March 22 to April 4.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified on Monday that staycationers may still leave their homes and travel between Metro Manila, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna and Rizal — also known as "NCR Plus" — but subject to age restrictions and health conditions of family members.

"'Pag nasa loob ng bubble, walang problema. 'Yung mga mag-staycation, allowed pa rin po iyan pero bawal ang seniors, bawal ang bata," Roque said.

[Translation: As long as you're inside the bubble, there is no problem. Those who want to do staycations are still allowed but not seniors and minors.]

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also made the confirmation in a television interview earlier in the day, noting that minors and senior citizens should stay home due to their vulnerability to COVID-19 transmission.

Under Resolution 104 of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, those aged below 18 years old and above 65, those with comorbidity and other health risks, as well as pregnant women must remain in their residences.

The same resolution, however, stressed that non-essential travel, even to other households, are strongly discouraged. Essential travel includes going to the workplace and other indispensable activities such as buying necessary goods and services.

READ: EXPLAINER: What you need to know about the NCR Plus bubble 

When asked whether staycations count as essential travel, Roque answered: "Hindi naman po kasi lalabas ng bubble 'yan. Sa loob lang po 'yan. Ineenganyo pa din natin ang negosyo sa loob ng bubble."

[Translation: They are not going outside the bubble anyway. That's only applicable inside. We are still encouraging businesses to operate within the bubble.]

Bubble expected to reduce COVID-19 cases by 25%

The national government expects to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases by 25% when the GCQ bubble ends by April 4.

"Our target is a minimum of 25%, but we are hoping for more," Roque said.

"It is a realistic goal for two weeks, and we hope to sustain it afterwards. We are aiming for more," he added.

The country logged 7,757 new cases on Sunday, the third consecutive day the 7,000 mark was breached. OCTA Research warned the country may reach 10,000 cases per day by the end of the month if the government fails to address the surge immediately.