The uniform curfew in Metro Manila started March 15, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to curb rising COVID-19 infections in the region, said Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairperson Benhur Abalos.
“The timetable for this curfew is two weeks. Why two weeks? Because the virus can manifest in humans within two weeks, so you could observe it already. If there is an improvement in the number of cases, we can lift the curfew,” said Abalos.
He stressed the curfew was one of the measures agreed upon by Metro Manila mayors, aside from aggressive testing and contact-tracing.
He also revealed they reached the decision after a rise in new cases: from February 2 to 10, Metro Manila contributed just eight percent of the country’s new COVID-19 cases but it is now at 60 percent — causing alarm among local executives.
According to Abalos, there would also be an “enhanced enforcement” of health protocols — from testing to contact-tracing and quarantine.
Aside from this, mayors would intensify the granular lockdowns, wherein areas with clustering of cases — which means infections by a group for each area, each household, and each road — mayors can order the closure even of a whole barangay.
These would be simultaneous, and of course, aside from that we would have strict enforcement of the protocols like wearing of the masks, which would be done by barangay captains, other local officials, and the entire police force.
These would be very stringent measures because the numbers seen by the mayors are alarming.
Despite the new curfew, Abalos guaranteed they would try their best to avoid straining the economy, as they would not restrict the delivery of essential goods, while people working for essential industries would not be barred from traveling.
For the essential workers, there would be no problem, they can move freely because even if the curfew starts by 10:00 p.m., there are takeout operations open and some restaurants operate for 24 hours.
“Even the workers, if they come from essential industries, they can move freely,” he added.
Police Officer in Charge Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said a total of 9,634 policemen from the Quezon City Police District, Manila Police District, Eastern Police District, Northern Police District and Southern Police District will also be deployed to assist to enforce the curfew.
The deployment, Eleazar said, includes the setting up of more than 373 checkpoints in various strategic areas which will be reinforced by beat and mobile car patrollers at the barangay level.
“The mission is plain and simple: All police forces will strictly implement the uniform curfew Hours from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and will ensure that people in Metro Manila observe the minimum health safety standard protocol,” he said.
Eleazar related those exempted from the implementation of the curfew hours are:
- Medical practitioners, nurses, ambulance drivers and other workers of medical facilities while on their way to and from work
- Attendants of other persons dealing with an emergency medical situation
- Persons who are obtaining emergency medical assistance for themselves or for other persons
- Drivers of delivery trucks while on their way to deliver essential goods/products
- Owners, vendors, and other persons involved in the transport and delivery of essential goods
- Private employees such as call center agents while on their way to and from work
- Construction workers while on their way to and from work
- Media practitioners while performing their job
- Persons who are travelling to or from airport prior to or after a flight
- Drivers of private transportation used as shuttle services while on their way to and from work
- Members of Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), including Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, and other emergency responders
- security guards and employees of open fast-foods (take out only)