Gov’t backtracks: Metro Manila to stay under MECQ, GCQ with alert levels deferred

People pass by a mural by artists Sim Tolentino, Bryan Barrios and Moks featuring images of people during the COVID-19 pandemic painted on the walls of the Columban Missionaries building on Singalong Street in Manila on on Sept. 6, 2021.

MANILA (UPDATE) — Metro Manila will stay under the second strictest lockdown level, modified enhanced community quarantine, until Sept. 15 as government postponed the region’s supposed shift to a looser lockdown, Malacañang said on Tuesday. 

The Palace earlier announced that the capital region’s 13 million people would shift to general community quarantine with alert level system from Sept. 8 to 30. 

The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 “deferred the pilot implementation” of this shift, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.

“Metro Manila’s current risk classification as Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) shall be maintained until September 15, 2021, or until the pilot GCQ with Alert Level System is implemented, whichever comes first,” he said in a statement. 

Indoor and al-fresco dine-in services, and personal care services including beauty salons, beauty parlors and nail spas shall remain prohibited, Roque said. 

Religious services, on the other hand, performed through online video recording and transmission shall be allowed, he said. 

Meanwhile, immediate family members are allowed to attend necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals as long as the deceased died of non-COVID-19 causes, added the Palace official. 

However, they need to show satisfactory proof of their relationship with the deceased and have to comply with the minimum public health standards, he said. 

The announcement came just hours before Metro Manila was supposed to shift to GCQ with granular lockdowns, which government hoped would better manage coronavirus infections and support the economy

The capital region is among areas in the country that have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant. 

The Philippines has been seeing new record highs in daily tallies in recent weeks and has recorded over 2.12 million cases, among the worst outbreaks in Southeast Asia. 

Daily cases in the past 30 days alone accounted for more than a fifth of the country’s total, while deaths have exceeded 34,000.

The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated about 15.2 million of its 109 million people against COVID-19, leaving millions still vulnerable. 

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