Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Philippines enforcing community quarantine curbs nationwide through Sept. 30. Lanao del Sur enacting stricter controls from Sept. 7.

Alert Begins 07 Sep 2020 06:56 AM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, quarantine measures

Authorities in the Philippines continue to implement varying community quarantine restrictions nationwide through at least Sept. 30, amid ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. The country remains under Code Red Sublevel 2 on the code alert system, indicating ongoing local virus transmission with greater numbers of cases than the government can address.

Local officials announced that Lanao del Sur Province would enact the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the second-strictest level of measures, from Sept. 7 due to increased local transmission cases; the controls are in place through Sept. 30. Iligan City is also implementing MECQ through Sept. 30. Under MECQ, residents can leave their homes to obtain essential supplies or seek emergency care. Key industries, including agriculture, food establishments, and manufacturing of essential products, can work on-site with full manpower. Several sectors, such as real estate and manufacturing of nonessential goods, can operate with half their workforce. Public transport and domestic flights remain suspended, while essential mass gatherings are limited to five people.

Several other locations continue to enact general community quarantine (GCQ), the third-strictest level of controls, through Sept. 30. Under GCQ, most workplaces and public places can operate with distancing protocols. Essential industries, such as agriculture, supermarkets, and utilities, can operate on-site at full capacity. Other select sectors, including financial and professional services and salons, may open at half their capacity. Authorities have lifted the suspension on gyms and internet cafes in GCQ areas. Public transport can operate at a reduced capacity with health protocols, such as maintaining a one-meter distancing between passengers. Nonessential mass gatherings remain banned, while religious congregations can now occur with attendees occupying up to 10 percent of the venues' capacity. Educational institutions remain suspended. Specific areas under GCQ include:


  • Luzon: Metro Manila, Pateros Municipality, and Batangas and Bulacan provinces


  • Visayas: Bacolod and Tacloban cities


Modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), which is the least severe level of restrictions, remains in effect for all other localities through Sept. 30. Companies can work on-site, though at-risk employees must telecommute. Officials are allowing public places, such as food establishments and gyms, to operate at 50-percent capacity. Public transport can operate with distancing controls in place. Mass gatherings may occur at half of venue capacity. Universities can conduct on-site activities with health protocols, while other educational institutions remain suspended with limited exceptions. Several provinces and cities under MGCQ may require "strict local action," which includes more stringent controls like community quarantine restrictions in localized areas.

Facilities such as children's amusement parks and establishments serving primarily alcoholic drinks remain closed in all forms of community quarantine. At-risk groups, including people below the age of 21 and above the age of 60, cannot work on-site nationwide, with limited exceptions. Provincial and municipal authorities and healthcare professionals may appeal to the central government to either tighten or ease measures. Authorities may also enact additional restrictions in localized areas with significant COVID-19 activity. Airlines, including AirAsia (AK), Cebgo (DG), Cebu Pacific (5J), and Philippine Airlines (PR), have reopened domestic routes between several cities with health protocols in place; passengers must wear facemasks.

Local governments in several areas are implementing restrictions in addition to the controls mandated by the central government. Metro Manila is implementing a 2200-0500 nightly curfew. Exemptions are in place for people commuting to and from workplaces with permission to operate on-site, transport workers, and people in emergencies, among others. Additionally, officials in Pasay and Pasig cities have mandated people to wear facemasks and face shields when in public. Baguio City continues to ban visitors from Metro Manila and other locations with significant COVID-19 activity. Local officials may enforce short-term movement restrictions, such as stay-home orders with limited exemptions, to facilitate mass testing of residents; Bacolod City imposed movement controls Aug. 28-31 to allow mass testing in the area.

Travel Restrictions
Authorities continue to ban most foreign nationals from entering the country. Exceptions are in place for foreign nationals with long-term visas, among others. Inbound foreign nationals must secure a quarantine facility and a COVID-19 testing provider in advance of arrival. Other visas and applications and visa-free privileges remain suspended. Exemptions for foreign spouses and children of Philippine citizens and diplomatic staff and dependents are in place. Arriving travelers must undergo a two-week quarantine at government-designated facilities. The central government reimposed a ban on nonessential outbound travel July 23. People who had confirmed their overseas travel booking as of July 20 can still depart, as well as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and uniformed personnel on official duty.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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