One of the most common concerns this month is the change from the normal Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to either Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), General Community Quarantine (GCQ), or Modified General Community Quarantine. This week, the government released their official guidelines for the different forms of quarantine, to give proper definitions to each of the varied statuses.
Community Quarantine Definitions
ECQ – Refers to the implementation of temporary measures imposing stringent limitations on movement and transportation of people, strict regulation of operating industries, provision of goods and essential services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols.
Places under ECQ until May 31: Cebu City and Mandaue City
MECQ – Refers to the transition phase between ECQ and GCQ, when these temporary measures are relaxed: stringent limiting of movement and transportation of people, strict regulation of operating industries, provision of food and essential services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols become less necessary.
Places under MECQ until May 31: Metro Manila, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, Angeles City, and Laguna
GCQ – Refers to the implementation of temporary measures limiting movement and transportation, regulation of operating industries, and presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols.
Placed under GCQ until May 31: The rest of the country.
MGCQ – Refers to the transition phase between GCQ and New Normal, when these temporary measures are relaxed: limiting movement and transportation, the regulation of operating industries, and the presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols become less necessary.
(No places are currently under MGCQ)
The “Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines” are the rules and regulations in details about the transport, industry, and establishments allowed to operate during the various stages of the community quarantine, up to the time when all of the country is on to what is being termed as the “New Normal”.
The changes to the country’s strictest form of quarantine, ECQ, allows more industries to resume operations, while simultaneously giving local governments the power to declare hard lockdowns in barangays with COVID-19 cases.
Under the new guidelines. The following general rules will apply.
Modified ECQ: Strict stay-at-home measures but people will be allowed to leave their homes only to obtain essential goods and go to work in industries allowed to resume by the government. High-risk persons (persons aged 0-20 and 60 or older, pregnant women, people with health risks) can go out only to obtain essential goods that no one can get for them, or for work in permitted industries. Exercising outdoors, such as jogging and biking, are now allowed if people wear masks and stay two meters apart.
GCQ: People will be allowed to move around for work and essential services in barangays without coronavirus cases.
Modified GCQ: Movement goes back to normal but mask-wearing, physical distancing, and other health protocols will be enforced.
Opening of Industry
Modified ECQ: Essential industries like health care, pharmacies, veterinary clinics, food manufacturing and supply chains, and groceries can operate at full capacity.
Media establishments, producers of cement and steel, BPO and export-oriented establishments that can operate off-site, mining and quarrying, e-commerce, postal and delivery services, rental and leasing of vehicles and equipment for permitted sectors, recruitment for permitted sectors, repair of computers, personal and household goods, and housing services can operate at full capacity.
Certain other industries and establishments can operate at 50% capacity, like beverage makers, real estate, advertising, film and music production, clothing stores, bookstores, baby supplies, flowers and jewellery shops.
GCQ: More industries and establishments can operate at full capacity.
Modified GCQ: All work resumes in private and public sector at full capacity but with enforcement of mask-wearing, physical distancing, and other health protocols.
Modified ECQ: Transportation, like private shuttles, will be allowed but only for essential work and services. There will still be no public transportation like trains, buses, jeeps, taxis, or transport network vehicle services (like Grab). Private cars are allowed, as long as only two people sit per row in larger vehicles, and only two people per vehicle in standard cars with four seats. Motorcycles, bicycles, and e-scooters allowed with only one rider.
GCQ: Public transportation now allowed but with enforcement of health protocols. Private vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, allowed.
Modified GCQ: Same as GCQ.
How about flights?
Modified ECQ: No domestic flights, no inter-island travel, limited international flights (outbound for foreigners only), Filipinos from abroad will be allowed to fly home.
GCQ: Inter-island travel is allowed between two GCQ areas, with safety protocols enforced.
Modified GCQ: All flights resume but with health protocols enforced.
Opening of government offices?
Modified ECQ: Skeletal workforce in office premises while the rest work from home.
GCQ: Alternative work arrangements like 4-day work week.
Modified GCQ: Operations resume but with health protocols.
Will schools be open?
Modified ECQ: Physical classes cannot resume yet.
GCQ: School premises open to allow skeletal workforce to process requirements from students and prepare for next semester or graduation.
Modified GCQ: Normal physical classes may resume with health protocols enforced, pending approval from DepEd and CHED. August 24 is the provisional date for classes to open as long as the area is already under MGCQ.
How about social gatherings?
Modified ECQ: Only gatherings (including religious gatherings) of up to 5 people are allowed, with health protocols observed. Leisure and entertainment-related gatherings like movie screenings, concerts, and sporting events are still prohibited.
GCQ: Gatherings (including religious gatherings) of up to 10 people are allowed, with health protocols observed.
Modified GCQ: No information yet.
Zoning scheme under modified ECQ
The government also introduced a zoning scheme that will be implemented by local government chiefs in MECQ or GCQ areas.
In this scheme, barangays with coronavirus cases will be placed under stricter quarantine measures. Those with 20 or more cases are considered “critical zones” and will be under ECQ or hard lockdowns.
Those with fewer cases are considered “containment zones” and will be under MECQ.
Barangays or clusters of barangays adjacent to any area with COVID-19 cases are “buffer zones” where GCQ will be enforced. Barangays outside a buffer zone will be on modified GCQ.
The task force left it up to provincial governors and mayors to decide on the zoning classification of their barangays.