DILG: No cash aid in areas under granular lockdown

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — Financial assistance will not be given to areas that will be placed under granular lockdown once the government starts the pilot implementation of the COVID-19 alert level system in Metro Manila, Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said Monday.

"Ang decision po is really food pack. Before kasi puro LGU (local government units) lang yan eh, ngayon kasama na si national government because this is a national strategy right now," Densing told CNN Philippines' The Source.

[Translation: The decision is really to distribute food packs. Before, only the LGUs would implement that, but now, the national government is involved because this is a national strategy right now.]

A granular lockdown refers to a smaller-scale quarantine enforced in villages, streets, or houses tagged as "critical zones," or high-risk for COVID-19 by the local government unit. Under the alert level system, a granular lockdown will last for a "standard" 14 days.

RELATED: EXPLAINER: What you need to know about the COVID-19 alert level system in NCR 

Densing said in the distribution process, 50% of the supply of food packs, which will ideally last for two weeks for affected households, will be shouldered by the national government to assist the different localities.

"Aside from the food packs, national government will provide logistics, PPEs. Unfortunately, wala ho tayong financial assistance (we don't have financial assistance) but food packs for 14 days," he added.

In a government briefing, Department of Social Welfare and Development spokesperson Glenda Relova said food packs will be given by the LGU for the first week while the DSWD will be in charge of the distribution on the second week or in the succeeding weeks if the lockdown is extended.

Densing said residents that will be covered by the granular lockdown may be given a 12-hour notice to buy their household necessities. However, areas with clustered infections "can be locked down immediately."

"The beauty of this is it's flexible. Let’s say one street of 10 houses will be locked down. Ipagpalagay natin, pag nagkaroon ng testing, nag-active case finding (If for example there will be testing and active case finding), they find out later on that four houses of the 10 are really not affected, the granular area will be scaled down to a smaller level," Densing explained.

From September 16 to 30, Metro Manila will undergo the pilot run of the COVID-19 alert level system, with the Department of Health declaring which will be placed under Alert Levels 1 to 4 and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases declaring which will be under the strictest Alert Level 5 or hard lockdown.

It is not yet clear whether areas that will be placed under Alert Level 5 will still receive cash aid, but Densing said this alert level equates to the strictest enhanced community quarantine previously placed in COVID-hit regions.

The IATF will issue the alert level system's final guidelines in the afternoon, Densing said.