This Week News

This Week in Metro Manila (August 8 to 14, 2020)

The liquor ban and longer curfews are back in some Metro Manila cities.

By: Denisse Shawntel Tan | August 08, 2020
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Metro Manila, quarantine, Health News, Quarantine Updates, Shopping News, COVID-19

Metro Manila, along with four other areas, reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine from August 4 to 18 in order to ease the workload of medical frontliners. The shift from GCQ to MECQ brings stricter rules that local government units (LGUs) will implement in their respective areas. In Muntinlupa, the LGU released guidelines for their residents to follow. Meanwhile, San Juan City also reinstated a liquor ban and longer curfew hours in order to discourage residents from breaking quarantine rules.

Transportation will also be adjusting to the two-week MECQ. Major airlines such as Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines suspended domestic flights to and from Manila. Meanwhile, the Pasig River Ferry System reopened to the public, offering free rides. On the other hand, the MRT-3 management moved the scheduled weekend operations suspension to October. Lastly, shopping, dining, and other services will also be affected by the change in quarantine status.

Quarantine Updates

Muntinlupa releases MECQ guidelines

Besides the rules set by the National Task Force, the Muntinlupa City government issued transportation protocols as well. Muntinlupa Traffic Management Bureau (MTMB) Chief Danidon Nolasco announced that jeepneys are not allowed to operate per the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) rules. However, tricycles will be allowed as long as they follow the standard safety measures.

Safety protocols include wearing face masks, placing plastic sheets between the driver and passenger, providing alcohol or sanitizers, disinfecting units, and carrying one passenger only. The tricycles will also follow an odd-even scheme; those with regulatory unit numbers ending in odd numbers will only be operational every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while those ending in even numbers will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays [1]. In addition, checkpoints will also be placed in various spots in order to monitor and regulate the traffic flow in the area. The “libreng sakay” program will also remain available for commuters.

San Juan City reimposed liquor ban

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora announced that the city-wide liquor ban was reinstated in the area during the entire MECQ period starting August 4. The liquor ban stated in Ordinance No. 54 prohibits the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The fine for violators was not disclosed [2]. Along with this ban, Zamora also ordered longer curfew hours that will be from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM.

Taguig City government’s MECQ guidelines allow outdoor exercise

Residents of Taguig City are allowed to perform outdoor exercise during the MECQ, according to the city’s local government. However, activities are only limited to one member per household and should only be within their respective barangay. Individuals must also follow standard health protocols such as proper social distancing and mandatory wearing of face masks.

In addition to outdoor activities, residents can also use common areas like parks, gardens, spaces, and walkways for one hour per day. Safe zones exclusive for seniors, pregnant women, children, and immunocompromised persons are also allowed to be used. Adults must accompany children below 12 years old. A curfew is also set from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM.

Taguig’s MECQ guidelines also tackled transportation concerns. Public transportation is not allowed in the entire city except for government-managed point-to-point vehicles. Tricycles are allowed but must only carry one passenger per unit. Those who will buy essential goods are allowed to use two-wheeled vehicles such as bikes, motorcycles, and e-scooters as long as they carry one passenger only. Motorists are also required to present valid IDS, quarantine passes, or certificates of employment at checkpoints.

Transportation News

Major airlines suspend domestic flights in Manila

Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines both announced the suspension of domestic flights over Metro Manila during MECQ. Cebu Pacific adds that flights between Manila and Taipei and other international flights will be also canceled. However, they said that they intend to operate several international flights. The flight and their respective schedules are as follows:

○ Manila-Dubai: every Sunday
○ Dubai-Manila: every Monday
○ Manila-Seoul (Incheon): every Thursday
○ Tokyo (Narita)-Manila: every Wednesday/Saturday starting August 8
○ Osaka-Manila: every Friday
○ Manila-Singapore: every Thursday/Saturday
○ Singapore-Manila: every Friday/Sunday

When it comes to other domestic flights, Cebu Pacific said that their Clark-Cebu-Clark and Cebu-Davao-Cebu routes will not be affected. The airline will also continue all cargo flights for the transport of essential goods as well as transporting stranded passengers. Meanwhile, PAL said that the domestic flights between Clark, Cebu, Davao and cities will remain operational. International flights to and from Manila will be allowed but must follow the guidelines set by the IATF when it comes to sanitary and capacity measures.

Those who have canceled flights from both airlines have the choice to rebook, refund, or place their ticket cost in a virtual wallet. Passengers can look at Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines’ websites for the terms and conditions. Those who booked flights through travel agencies and other online booking sites must coordinate with the said third-party channels in order to manage bookings and refunds [3].

Pasig River ferry system reopens

The Pasig River Ferry System (PRFS) reopened to the public last August 3 after being closed since March. The PRFS will operate from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM and will still offer free rides to passengers. Opened stations are Pinagbuhatan, San Joaquin, Guadalupe, Valenzuela, Lawton, and Escolta. The routes will be from Pinagbuhatan to Guadalupe, Guadalupe to Escolta and vice versa, and Guadalupe to San Joaquin and vice versa.

The boats will also follow safety protocols set by the IATF such as limited passenger capacity, mandatory disinfection of units and facilities, mandatory wearing of face masks between passengers and operators, regular temperature checks, and filling out manifest forms. Stickers and signs were also placed in various spots in the stations to guide passengers on the rules and safety protocols. Allowed passengers on board must be between 21 to 59 years old [4].

MRT’s scheduled weekend suspension moved to October

The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) management announced the postponement of the scheduled suspension of weekend operations for rail replacement projects. The schedule is now moved to October to November from its previous schedule of August to September. The specific dates would be Oct. 10-11, Oct. 31, Nov. 1-2 and Nov. 14-15. The change in schedule is recommended by Sumitomo-MHI-TESP, the maintenance provider for the trains [5].

Face shields now required for public transportation

Face shields are now mandatory for commuters starting August 15. DOTr Undersecretary for Administrative Service Atty. Artemio U. Tuazon Jr issued Memorandum Circular No. 2929-014 last August 3 which enforces the mandatory use of face shields among passengers and drivers of all forms of public transportation. Wearing of face shields was previously highly recommended by President Duterte as part of the standard health protocols. Additional information regarding fines for violators are yet to be announced.

Motorcycle back-riding now allowed during MECQ

Motorcycle pillion riding is now allowed in Metro Manila and the other four provinces placed under MECQ. The National Task Force relaxed the rules on back riding but they also set the following conditions:

• The passenger or backrider should be an authorized person outside residence (APOR) and their travel must be for work.
• The motorcycle is privately-owned and not rented.
• A barrier is installed between the passenger and driver.

The task force also clarified that the relationship of the driver and passenger is not a factor. Previously, only married couples were allowed to conduct pillion-riding. The rules also apply to private motorcycles only and do not cover motorcycle taxis.

Shopping News

Dine-in services and other business sectors not allowed under MECQ

Various business sectors will not be allowed to operate during the two-week MECQ in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said that a number of businesses such as gyms, fitness centers, salons, barbershops, internet cafes, review centers, and dine-in options for restaurants will not be allowed to operate in MECQ areas [6]. Meanwhile, businesses classified under the following sectors are allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity:

• Agriculture, forestry and fisheries
• BPOs
• Banks
• Capital markets
• Delivery and courier services
• Electronic commerce
• Essential constructions (isolation facilities, etc)
• Funeral, embalming, security
• Gasoline stations
• Groceries markets, convenience stores and drug stores
• Hospitals and clinics
• Laundry services
• Logistics services
• Media
• Mining
• Postal
• Printing
• Production of essential personal hygiene products, vitamins and medicines, medical supplies, masks, and PPE
• Telcos, energy, and power companies
• Water refilling stations

Meanwhile, businesses that can operate at 50 percent capacity are as follows:

• Advertising and market research
• Architectural activities
• Film, music, and TV production
• Financial services (money exchange)
• Legal and accounting
• Malls and commercial centers (non leisure)
• Management consultancy
• Office admin and support
• Other manufacturing
• Photography
• Publishing and printing
• Recruitment
• Restaurant delivery and takeout

Health News: COVID-19 testing facility opened in NAIA for returning OFWs

Philippine Airlines (PAL) opened a COVID-19 testing facility at the Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The facility can conduct RT-PCR swab testing for returning Filipinos and arriving authorized foreign passengers. It is capable of conducting mandatory testings for 1,200 passengers daily with the results produced within 48 hours. PAL’s One-Stop-Shop (OSS) is accredited by the government to help in screening arriving travelers in Manila via flights from Asia, North America, Europe, Middle East, And Oceania. They collaborate with IATF’s own OSS facility that screens returning OFWs.

Non-OFWs or returning overseas Filipinos are required to register via PALlink and must accomplish an electronic investigation form three days prior to their flight to the country. Other requirements include a pre-booked two-day stay at any government-accredited hotel in Manila where they can wait for the processing and release of their COVID test results. Both testings and hotel stays must be shouldered by the passenger. OFWs can register via the Red Cross Portal and are also required to fill out and submit an electronic case investigation form three days before their flight. The cost for testing and accommodation for OFWs will be shouldered by the Philippine government or manpower agencies [7].

Go to Yoorekka for more COVID-19 updates in Metro Manila.

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About Denisse Shawntel Tan
Denisse Tan is currently a work in progress: she’s an aspiring writer, artist, and fashion designer! She’s trying to figure out how to manage her time in achieving all of her goals while also taking in life as humanly possible. Aside from art, she’s a big fan of the color pink, disco music, Bratz dolls, and Genshin Impact. By age 35, she plans to travel to New York City 🗽.
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Disclaimer: All articles in the Consumers Magazine of Yoorekka are for general information and entertainment purposes only. Although careful research has been made in writing them, Yoorekka does not make any warranty about the completeness and accuracy of all information presented in our articles. Our content is not intended to be used in place of legal, medical, or any professional advice.
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