Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) placed nearby provinces in Metro Manila under GCQ from March 22 to April 4, 2021. Along with Metro Manila, other areas now under GCQ are Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal—as a group, the areas as referred to as ‘NCR Plus.’
Under the general community quarantine in Metro Manila and the four other provinces, a “travel bubble” will be implemented, which means that residents are only allowed to travel within the area of their residences. Travelling in and out of GCQ areas is also prohibited. Exempted from the travel bubble are authorized persons outside residences (APORs) like essential workers, frontliners, and health workers in Metro Manila. Employees who cross borders for work will also be allowed as long as they present a valid ID that shows proof of residence .
Under quarantine protocols, a curfew will also be in effect from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM with the exemption of public transportation, cargo vehicles, and workers. Meanwhile, in terms of land transportation in Metro Manila, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that the transportation capacity will remain the same as long vehicles follow minimum health standards. For flights, only essential travels will be allowed. Meanwhile, physical exercising such as walking and biking will still be allowed, and mass gatherings will be allowed for only a maximum of 10 persons. Restaurant dine-in is also allowed as long as it is done in an outdoor setting. Lastly, persons below 18 years old and above 65 are prohibited from going outside, and households are also not allowed to accept guests aside from immediate family members or relatives.
COMELEC shortens registration hours
In response to the GCQ, the Commission on Elections (COMEC) limited their operating hours in their offices. The COMELEC will now be operational from Mondays to Thursdays at 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM under a skeletal workforce to comply with the 50% operational capacity. Fridays will be the designated disinfection day. Registrants are advised to follow health and safety protocols in all COMELEC offices. Applicants are also encouraged to register via irehistro.comelec.gov.ph. Registrants who have made prior appointments on affected days (Fridays and Saturdays) are advised to contact the Offices of the Elections Officer (OEOs) for rebooking instructions .
Holy Week activities postponed for a second year
Holy Week festivities are postponed for a second year due to the alarming surge of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila. Since the latest IATF resolution prevents mass gatherings like religious activities until April 4, Filipino Catholics will have to postpone their holy week activities. Prior to the IATF announcement, Catholic bishops already campaigned for the suspension of church activities for two weeks, including Holy Week . Because of this, several dioceses in Metro Manila, like the Dioceses of Novaliches and Cubao, will close their churches during the GCQ period. Parishes also urged devotees to practice their faith at home .