The looming threat of a COVID-19 Delta variant breakout was enough for the national government to place Metro Manila and its neighbouring provinces under a stricter level of quarantine.
In a televised address to the nation on Friday, 30 July, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions will be placed in the area from 30 to 5 July, while an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) will be imposed in the from 6 to 20 August.
It can be recalled that in the first weeks of July, Filipinos were met by terrifying news: the feared SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has a new variant and it is more dangerous than its predecessors.
The Delta variant, one of the 11 SARS-CoV-2 variants that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is closely monitoring, continues to spread in the Philippines. As of this writing, there are already 119 cases of the disease, a big leap compared to the 11 cases recorded by the Department of Health (DOH) just two weeks ago.
So how contagious is the Delta variant? What restrictions have been imposed under 'GCQ with heightened restrictions'? In this article, Tatler answers your questions regarding the country's quarantine situation for the next two weeks.
What Could Happened Under Delta Surge?
According to the independent OCTA Research Group, a "catastrophic spike" may take place if the government does not put COVID-19 hotspots like Manila under stricter lockdowns.
OCTA Senior Research Fellow Dr Guido David warned that if the government continues to put plans on imposing stricter quarantine levels on hold, the daily average cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) will escalate from as low as 2,000 cases to as high as 5,000.
Another OCTA Research fellow, professor Ranjit Rye, stressed that the guidelines under GCQ will "not be enough" to combat the threats of the new COVID-19 strain.
"Given the rising number of new cases and steady increase in reproduction rate, Octa believes that the current GCQ [general community quarantine] with heightened restrictions will not be enough to reverse the alarming trends,” Rye said in a Laging Handa press briefing.
"[The Delta variant] is really something else. If this spreads and we neglect this, we will lose effective control of the pandemic," he said.
What is General Community Quarantine (GCQ) With Heightened Restrictions?
Based on the guidelines released by the Inter-Agency Task Force Against Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), a GCQ with heightened restriction with additional restrictions would mean that dining places are still allowed to operate given that their indoor dining is limited to 20 per cent seating capacity while al fresco or outdoor dining is permitted at 50 per cent capacity.
Tourist attractions such as outdoor parks and picnic areas can operate at 30 per cent capacity. Religious gatherings or necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 in Metro Manila shall be allowed up to 10 per cent of the venue capacity.
The GCQ with heightened restrictions status also allows personal care services that do not require removing masks, including salons, parlours, and beauty clinics, at 30 per cent capacity. Non-contact sports, games and scrimmages held outdoors are also allowed.
Meanwhile, only those who are over 16 and below 65 are allowed to leave their respective place of residence.
Business establishments that are not allowed to open are entertainment venues such as concert halls, theatres, internet cafes, billiards, halls, arcades, amusement parks, and bars.
Interzonal travel from Metro Manila and nearby places shall remain prohibited unless they are conducted by authorised persons.