The last few days has seen a whirlwind of new guidelines and regulations, especially for travelers around the National Capital Region (NCR).
This is what we know: Over the last week, the Philippines has seen a major rise in Covid-19 cases, logging over 8,000 in a single day. And with the new, more transmissible virus strains recorded in every city in Metro Manila, the OCTA Research Group projects as much as 18,000 daily cases by April if we don’t get things under control.
Hoping to reduce the Covid-19 transmission rate, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced new, stricter quarantine measures for areas within NCR beginning Monday, March 22. Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, have been designated as “NCR+” and put under a “quarantine bubble” until April 04 (click here to read the specific resolution).
Still confused? So were we—these were some of our questions, and this is what we understand so far.
Who is (and isn’t) allowed outdoors during the quarantine period?
While in the quarantine bubble, children below 18 and adults over 65 years old, as well as pregnant women and anyone with co-morbidities and immunodeficiencies, are required to stay at home.
NCR+ is also adopting uniform curfew hours—10PM to 5AM—for all residents except for essential workers.
Can I travel freely outside of the bubble?
No. Only Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APORs) are allowed to come in and out of the NCR+ bubble. This includes essential workers, healthcare personnel, government officials, and humanitarian workers. Returning overseas Filipinos and any residents returning home are also allowed to travel.
Can I travel for leisure within the bubble?
No. While travel for work and essential activities is allowed, travel for leisure is being strongly discouraged. Public centers like cinemas, arcades, libraries, museums, and other cultural centers have suspended their operations, while open-air tourist sites can opt to stay open.
Restaurants are limited to delivery, take-out, and al fresco dining, and mass gatherings have been suspended. As of March 26, the IATF-EID has allowed religious gatherings between April 01 to 04, at 10 percent capacity.
Am I allowed to go out and exercise?
Yes. Biking, walking, and other forms of active mobility are still allowed under the GCQ bubble, but only for those who are 18 to 65. Senior citizens who are persons with disabilities (PWDs) may go out for exercise and therapy, provided they present a valid PWD ID.
Are staycations within the bubble allowed?
Yes. In a televised press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that staycations within NCR+, among immediate family members, are allowed despite leisure travel being discouraged.
Can I fly out to visit A province outside of the bubble?
It all depends on where you’re going. Outbound flights from Metro Manila that have been booked before the quarantine announcement will be subject to the local travel guidelines of your destination. Check with the concerned local IATF for more information.
Will public transportation still be available?
All currently operational public transportation services in NCR+ will remain available at 50 percent capacity. Active transport such as biking and walking are also encouraged when possible.
Are there any changes in health protocols?
Everyone is still required to follow minimum health standards: wear a mask (or two) and a face shield, and maintain social distancing when possible, but other than that, nothing in terms of protocol has changed for everyday citizens.
NOTE: This article has been edited to reflect the most current information as of March 25, 2021.
On March 27, the IATF-EID announced that NCR+ would be under a week-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 to April 04. Read about the latest travel guidelines in the area here.