The government has placed Metro Manila and four other areas under the lenient general community quarantine (GCQ) and has imposed a partial lockdown in Iligan.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Monday night, Aug. 31, that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recommended that Metro Manila remain under GCQ along with Bulacan, Batangas, Tacloban City and Bacolod City.
Bulacan, Tacloban City and Bacolod City were reverted to GCQ from modified GCQ or MGCQ.
Iligan, meanwhile, was placed under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). The city's officials had asked the regional task force dealing with the pandemic to allow them to return to enhanced community quarantine or ECQ, the strictest lockdown scenario due to rising coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections. Previous reports said 21 of the 44 barangays in Iligan have recorded third-degree local transmissions.
The rest of the country will be under the most lenient MGCQ.
Instead of just two weeks, the new quarantine classifications will be effective for the whole month of September, the beginning of the festive season in the country due to the upcoming Christmas holidays.
Officials previously said placing regions under lockdowns is no longer sustainable as it would harm the economy and disrupt livelihoods. They are instead eyeing the localized implementation of quarantine measures to contain COVID-19 transmission while reopening the economy.
Earlier, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Metro Manila mayors, whose areas account for more than a third of the Philippines' economic output, wanted the capital region to remain under GCQ and were in favor of shorter curfew hours.
Under GCQ, public transportation services are allowed but on a limited capacity and most industries can operate partially. Only up to 10 persons who can join gatherings to ensure that physical distancing is observed.
Roque said there were also suggestions to downgrade Metro Manila to MGCQ because of its economic contributions but this was apparently not feasible.
Roque previously disclosed Metro Manila’s case doubling rate is nine days while the requirement for an area to be placed under MGCQ is 28 days. Under MGCQ, more sectors like tourism can resume operations and more modes of mass transportation are permitted. Restrictions on public gatherings are also relaxed.
Roque said mayors have also proposed that the start of the curfew be adjusted to 10 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. Local chief executives of the National Capital Region imposed uniform curfew hours of 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. last Aug. 19. Only Navotas City wanted to retain the present curfew hours, Roque added.
Asked if the President would agree with the proposal to adjust curfew hours, Roque said it would depend on the decision of local governments.