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Metro Manila and its neighbouring provinces will be placed under a stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 Delta variant.

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. 

See also: How To Avoid Covid-19: Tips To Stay Healthy & Sanitised

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.

Related: How Effective Is Your Vaccine Against The New COVID-19 Delta Strain? 

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

Read more: COVID-19 Tests In The Philippines 2021: Here’s What You Need To Know

What Is Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ)? 

Under ECQ, every person is advised to stay at home. Outdoor activities such as exercise and small gatherings are prohibited in areas where the quarantine has been placed.

An ECQ would also mean that no public transportations are allowed. Domestic flights and international flights will remain limited. Only public shuttles for frontliners, company vehicles with a special permit from the government, and personal vehicles of those exempted from the quarantine (frontliners: media, medical workers, et al) are allowed.

Among the sectors that are allowed to operate amid ECQ are media establishments, agriculture, banks, postal, courier, and delivery services, gasoline stations, manufacturing companies, telecommunication, and dining. 

Read more: MECQ and ECQ: What's The Difference?

Which Quarantines Are Imposed In The Philippines?
*Due to changes in announcements, areas will be updated from time to time until 31 August 2021.

The Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) will be imposed in the following areas:

  • Laguna
  • Iloilo City
  • Cagayan de Oro City
  • Apayao
  • Ilocos Norte
  • Bulacan
  • Cavite
  • Lucena City
  • Rizal
  • Aklan
  • Iloilo Province
  • Lapu-Lapu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Cebu City

The General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions will be imposed in the following places:

  • Ilocos Sur
  • Cagayan
  • Quezon
  • Batangas 
  • Naga City
  • Antique
  • Bacolod City
  • Capiz
  • Negros Oriental
  • Cebu
  • Zamboanga del Sur
  • Misamis Oriental
  • Davao City
  • Davao del Norte
  • Davao Occidental
  • Davao de Oro
  • Butuan City

The following will be under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ):

  • Baguio City
  • Santiago City
  • Quirino
  • Isabela
  • Nueva Vizcaya
  • Batangas
  • Quezon
  • Puerto Princesa 
  • Guimaras
  • Negros Occidental
  • Zamboanga Sibugay 
  • Zamboanga City 
  • Zamboanga del Norte
  • Davao Oriental
  • Davao del Sur
  • General Santos City 
  • Sultan Kudarat
  • Sarangani
  • North Cotabato
  • South Cotabato
  • Agusan del Norte
  • Agusan del Sur
  • Surigao del Norte
  • Surigao del Sur
  • Dinagat Island
  • Cotabato City

How Can I Protect Myself From COVID-19 Delta Strain?

Below are some of the ways to protect yourself from the contagious Delta strain:

Get vaccinated: Vaccination remains the single most safe and effective strategy for protecting yourself and your community. Vaccines trigger your immune response to recognise and ward off disease-causing organisms. They can also lessen the impact of COVID-19 and all its variants in your body.

Lessen your time in crowded spaces: Reduce the ways people come in close contact with one another. An effective way to do this is to stay at home or in spacious outdoor spaces with fresh air.

Educate Others: The best way to survive a pandemic together is to educate those around you. Let them know of the benefits that vaccines have, how social distancing works, and more. 

More from Tatler: Tatler Heroes: Filipinos Leading The Fight Against Covid-19

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