Metro Manila to remain under GCQ with heightened restrictions until August 15

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 29)  Despite calls for a hard lockdown to arrest the ongoing surge in Metro Manila, President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the National Task Force against COVID-19 to keep Metro Manila under general community quarantine with heightened restrictions until August 15.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said other areas under the same quarantine classification are:

- Region 1: Ilocos Sur

- Region 2: Cagayan

- Region 3: Bulacan

- Region 4-A: Laguna, Lucena City, Cavite and Rizal

- Region 5: Naga City

- Region 6: Antique, Aklan, Bacolod City and Capiz

- Region 7: Negros Oriental

- Region 9: Zamboanga del Sur

- Region 10: Misamis Oriental

- Region 11: Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro and Davao Occidental

- CARAGA: Butuan City

COVID-19 research watchdog OCTA has urged the government to implement a hard lockdown or a "go early, go hard" strategy in Metro Manila before coronavirus cases spike further.

It said the surge is only in its early stages and can still be managed, but OCTA fellow Dr. Guido David said lockdowns should be enforced immediately to turn the tide. The region is recording an average of 1,000 COVID-19 infections daily, but OCTA predicts it can double in two weeks if stricter restrictions are not implemented immediately.

Business groups have warmed up to the idea of a two-week hard lockdown due to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.

Metro Manila mayors, meanwhile, said they are agreeable to the imposition of stricter measures for two weeks, but the 17 cities and municipality must be allocated four million vaccine doses, which will be administered to the general public during the lockdown period.

Prior to Duterte's approval, the local chief executives said they requested the pandemic task force to impose stricter quarantine measures. They assured that they are ready to implement a two-week enhanced community quarantine — the strictest quarantine status — if the national government has a budget for cash aid.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the quarantine classification for Metro Manila is subject to appeal, adding the Inter-Agency Task Force will meet with the mayors on Thursday.

What is GCQ with heightened restrictions

Based on the guidelines released by the IATF in May, indoor dining is allowed at 20% seating capacity while al fresco or outdoor dining is permitted at 50% capacity, the Palace added. Tourist attractions in the area may also open at 30% capacity.

Gatherings for religious or necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 in NCR Plus shall be allowed up to 10% of the venue capacity.

The GCQ with heightened restrictions status also allows personal care services that do not require removing masks, including salons, parlors, and beauty clinics, at 30% capacity. Non-contact sports, games and scrimmages held outdoors are also allowed.

Individuals 18 to 65 years old can leave their places of residence in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions.

The restrictions also prohibit opening entertainment venues such as bars, concert halls, and theaters; recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiards halls, arcades; amusement parks, fairs, playgrounds, kiddie rides; indoor sports courts and venues and indoor tourist attractions; and venues for meetings, conferences, and exhibitions.

Interzonal travel from NCR Plus areas, except those conducted by authorized persons shall remain prohibited in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions.

Other quarantine restrictions

Iloilo City and Iloilo Province in Region 6 and Cagayan de Oro City and Gingoog City in Region 10 were placed under the most restrictive enhanced community quarantine until August 7.

Under modified enhanced community quarantine until August 15 are Ilocos Norte in Region 1, Bataan in Region 3, and Lapu-Lapu City and Mandaue City in Region 7.

Meanwhile, the following areas are under GCQ until August 31:

- CAR: Baguio City and Apayao

- Region 2: City of Santiago, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino

- Region 4-A: Quezon and Batangas

- Region 4-B: Puerto Princesa

- Region 6: Guimaras and Negros Occidental

- Region 9: Zamboanga Sibugay, City of Zamboanga and Zamboanga del Norte

- Region 11: Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur

- Region 12: General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and South Cotabato

- CARAGA: Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands and Surigao del Sur

- BARMM: Cotabato City

All other areas in the country will be under the least restrictive modified general community quarantine until August 31.