This week, preventive measures against the pandemic are prioritized by local governments in Metro Manila. As early as September, majority of the mayors in Metro Manila agreed to the temporary closure of cemeteries in their respective cities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Meanwhile, contactless payment in toll booths at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) will also be implemented to lessen the risks of spreading the coronavirus. When it comes to shopping, everyone is now required to wear face shields whenever they are inside malls and markets. Lastly, Mandaluyong City is constructing its first molecular lab to help in ramping up COVID-19 testing in the city. Read on for the details on these and more lockdown news.
Metro Manila mayors agree to close cemeteries during Undas
Metro Manila mayors decided to temporarily close cemeteries in their cities from October 29 to November 4—the period in which All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day fall —to prevent mass gatherings. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jojo Garcia said that the standard policies and guidelines for the shutdown will be decided by the inter-agency task force and local executives. The main reasons for the closure are health and safety reasons, according to National Task Force (NTF) Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla. He also advised Filipinos to visit the graves of their deceased loved ones ahead of time.
NLEX and SCTEX to use RFID starting September 30
The toll booths at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) will now use a cashless payment system by September 30. Replacing the battery-powered Easytrip tags will be the new radio frequency identification (RFID), which is a small, easy-to-attach, and paper-thin sticker that will be placed in the windshield or headlights of vehicles. RFIDs can also be used in other Metro Pacific Tollways like CAVITEX and CALAX.
Two RFID sticker installation sites are open 24/7 at Balintawak toll plaza (northbound) Customer Service Center Parking Area and NLEX Bocaue toll plaza (southbound) Expansion Lane X01. Those who still have some remaining account balance in their EasyTrip tags can transfer it to their RFID by filling out a load balance transfer form from the EasyTrip website and emailing it to email@example.com afterwards.
The transition to RFID is due to the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) emphasis on providing new transportation policies under the new normal. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) also issued the Memorandum Circular 2020-020 which aims to lessen the risk of COVID-19 by using cashless transactions .
Staycations now allowed in GCQ areas
The Department of Tourism (DOT) will allow staycations in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) like Metro Manila and Cebu. The resumption of staycations is part of DOT’s plan to revive local tourism activities. DOT secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said that the proposal was approved by the national task force last September 10. However, Puyat said that it’s not clear when GCQ residents can start booking their staycations . Puyat also added that a memorandum specifying the allowable number of persons in guest rooms and other amenities will be released soon.
Hotels that are planning to accept guests must have a certificate accredited by DOT. When it comes to accommodations, establishments are only allowed to provide the basics, and the staff must be working on a “skeletal force.” Places like gyms, cafes, and restaurants can operate but must follow the safety regulations that cover their business type. Back in May, select tourism activities and staycations were allowed in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
Metro Manila opens its first drive-in theater
Last September 9, SM Cinemas opened the first drive-in theater in Metro Manila at the Mall of Asia. The drive-in cinema can accommodate 106 cars; each vehicle must accommodate only four passengers, and all must be between 21 to 59 years old. Guests are also assigned to their parking spots so that they can have a view of the 2 meter x 8.5 meter screen raised 4 feet from the ground. They will also be asked to tune in their FM radio so they can hear the movie’s sounds in their own vehicle.
Physical distancing and wearing of face masks must still be practiced by guests while inside their vehicles . Viewing will be available from Wednesday to Sunday at 6:45PM. Tickets can only be purchased online since none will be sold at the venue. Screenings will also depend on the weather condition. Guests can rebook in case a show gets cancelled due to technical difficulties and typhoons.
Earlier, SM Cinemas opened its first drive-in theater at SM Pampanga which can accommodate 87 vehicles.
Face shields now mandatory in supermarkets and malls
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) released Resolution No. 68 which requires the public to wear face shields along with their face masks whenever they go to malls, supermarkets, public markets, and government venues. The resolution was announced last September 7 . Prior to this, face shields have already been required during commutes and in workplaces.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that wearing face shields is highly encouraged as an extra layer of protection against the coronavirus. He adds that government units must provide face shields to their constituents, subject to availability of funds.
Mandaluyong City opens own molecular laboratory
Mandaluyong City is on its way to having its own molecular laboratory that can be used to conduct COVID-19 screenings . Mayor Carmelita Abalos announced the city’s plan to speed up the testing capabilities last September 14, and the laboratory’s construction is fully funded by the local government. Located inside the compound of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), the facility is capable of conducting polymerase chain reaction testing and is expected to be fully operational by the end of October. Currently, the local government submits swab tests to the Philippine Red Cross.
Go to Yoorekka for more COVID-19 updates in Metro Manila.
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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