In an address last week, President Duterte announced that Metro Manila will remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) until the end of November. Despite the extended quarantine, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and other government bureaus are easing restrictions that were imposed during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, churches are now allowed to operate under 30% capacity. Meanwhile, air conditioning and Wifi will now be available again in malls and other retail stores. Lastly, foreign nationals who have investor visas can now enter the country. Read on for the complete details!
Metro Manila under GCQ until November 30
Metro Manila will remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) until November 30, as announced by President Rodrigo Duterte in a taped speech aired last October 27 . Other areas under GCQ are the provinces of Batangas and Lanao del Sur, as well as the cities of Bacolod, Iligan, Iloilo, and Tacloban.
IATF allows more people in religious gatherings
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has allowed more people in places of worship that are located in areas under GCQ. According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, churches can now accommodate up to 30% of its total capacity—a big leap from the previous 10%. With the upcoming simbang gabi (midnight mass), mayors in Metro Manila backed this increase in capacity. The curfew will also be shortened to 12:00 AM to 3:00 AM.
Church attendees are required to observe standard health protocols such as physical distancing and wearing of face masks and face shields. Hand sanitizers should also be provided by the places of worship . Under the new normal, pews that normally sit 10 persons are limited to three persons due to the strict physical distancing rules. When it comes to the Holy Communion, devotees are required to wear their face masks. Holy water fonts are also dry and covered with white cloth. Because of the limited seating capacity, churches also conduct online masses through Facebook.
Traffic News: Muñoz U-turn closed
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) closed the U-turn slot along EDSA at Muñoz to give way for the EDSA busway project. The U-turn slot, which closed last October 26, is near Waltermart Muñoz and Panorama Building. MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim said that affected motorists are advised to take the Quezon Avenue Service Road U-turn for northbound and Dario Bridge U-turn for southbound .
The EDSA busway project will aid the operations of the MRT-3 trains and its bus augmentation program. Other U-turn slots that will be closed are Malvar, De Jesus, Tinio, Biglang-Awa, Balintawak, Kaingin, Timog, Walter Mart, Landers, Santolan, and Dario Bridge.
Travel Updates: Foreigners with investor visas now allowed to enter the country
Starting November 1, foreigners with investor visas are allowed to enter the country, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. The investor's visa should be issued by the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Roque added that foreign nationals must comply with the conditions for entry such as having a pre-booked accredited quarantine facility and they must abide by the country's rules, regulations, and laws. The IATF approved the easing of travel restrictions last October 22 .
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) eased shopping measures that were set during the first months of quarantine. Under Memorandum Circular 20-55, malls and other commercial centers are now allowed to set a cooler air conditioning temperature, provide free WiFi services for customers, and hold sales and promos. The changes in shopping measures were made to attract customers and to boost the economy . However, strict physical distancing and standard health protocols should still be observed. Since the IATF also lowered the age bracket for individuals who are allowed to go outside their homes, those who are below 21 and above 59 years old can now enter malls.
Health News: Manuel L. Quezon University converted to a quarantine facility
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) converted the Manuel L. Quezon University (MLQU) in Quiapo into an isolation facility that can accommodate 60 COVID-19 patients. The MLQU facility has a radiology room, two nurse stations, and four comfort rooms.
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar announced that the conversion took two weeks. Since the university shifted to an online learning system, school buildings have been converted to isolation facilities. Villar adds that more buildings will be converted to healthcare facilities in order to contain the number of COVID-19 cases .
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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