From ECQ to MECQ
By virtue of Proclamation No. 919, Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was imposed throughout Luzon on 16 March 2020 until 14 April 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ECQ was extended due to the rising number of COVID-19 confirmed cases, and on 01 May 2020, Executive Order No. 112 imposed another extension of ECQ in high-risk geographical areas in Luzon and imposed ECQ in some areas in Visayas and Mindanao until 15 May 2020.
However, other areas were already placed under General Community Quarantine (“GCQ”). On 16 May 2020, the Philippine Government started implementing a Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (“MECQ”) in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cebu City.
What is a Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ)?
The Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines (“Guidelines”) defined MECQ as the transition phase between ECQ and GCQ, when these temporary measures are relaxed; stringent limiting movement and transportation of people, strict regulation of operating industries, provision of food and essential services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols become less necessary.
Under MECQ, strict home quarantine shall still be observed in all households. Any person below twenty-one (21) years old, those who are sixty (60) years old and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, or other health risks, and pregnant women, including any person who resides with the aforementioned, shall not be allowed to go out of their residences at all times. The only exception is when indispensable under the circumstances for obtaining essential goods and services, and for work allowed under MECQ.
What are still prohibited within MECQ areas?
The following are still not allowed in areas placed under MECQ:
- Public gatherings that are unauthorized, non-work essential or are entertainment-related such as movie screenings, concerts, and sporting events;
- Religious gatherings (allowed only if not more than 5 persons);
- Residential or face-to-face classes at all levels;
- Public transportation (Public rail such as PNR, LRT-1, LRT-2, MRT-3, bus, jeepney, taxi, transport network vehicle services or TNVs such as Grab, and tricycle are still not allowed.);
- Small scale-projects in construction;
- Operations of the following:
- Tourist destinations such as water parks, reservation services and related services;
- Entertainment industries such as cinemas, theaters, and karaoke bars;
- Kid amusement industries such as playroom and kiddy rides;
- Libraries, archives, museums and cultural centers;
- Gyms, fitness studios and sports facilities; and
- Personal care services such as massage parlors, sauna, facial care and waxing.
What are allowed in areas placed under MECQ?
Accessing essential goods and services, and for work in permitted offices or establishments or such other activities like individual outdoor exercises (outdoor walks, jogging, running or biking) are the only movements which are allowed within MECQ areas.
Who are allowed to operate in areas placed under MECQ?
Industries, establishments, and offices allowed in areas under ECQ shall remain permitted to operate or work at the same operational capacity and under the same conditions provided in areas under ECQ.
In addition to that, the following activities or services are already allowed to operate at full (100%) operational capacity under the MECQ:
- Media establishments;
- Establishments involved in the production of cement and steel;
- BPOs and export-oriented establishments, without need to set up onsite or near-site accommodation arrangements;
- Mining and quarrying;
- E-commerce companies;
- Postal, courier and delivery services;
- Rental and leasing, other than real estate, such as vehicles and equipment for permitted sectors;
- Repair of computers, personal and household goods; and
- Housing services activities.
However, offices, establishments, or individuals conducting or providing the following activities or services are allowed to operate only at fifty percent (50%) operational capacity:
- Other manufacturing industries classified as beverages, which include:
- Alcoholic drinks
- Electrical machinery
- Wood products and furniture;
- Non-metallic products;
- Textiles and clothing/wearing apparels;
- Tobacco products;
- Paper and paper products;
- Rubber and plastic products;
- Coke and refined petroleum products;
- Other non-metallic mineral products;
- Computers, electronic, and optical products;
- Electrical equipment;
- Machinery and equipment;
- Motor vehicles, trailers, and semi-trailers;
- Other transport equipment and others.
- Real estate and leasing activities;
- Administrative and office support, such as but not limited to providing photocopying and billing services;
- Other financial services such as, but not limited to, money exchange, insurance, microfinance and credit cooperatives, reinsurance and non-compulsory pension funding;
- Legal and accounting services;
- Management consultancy services or activities;
- Architectural and engineering activities that includes technical testing and analysis;
- Science and technology, and research and development;
- Recruitment and placement agencies for overseas employment;
- Advertising and market research;
- Computer programming and information management services;
- Publishing and printing services;
- Film, music and television production;
- Photography, fashion, and industrial, graphic and interior design;
- Wholesale and retail trade of vehicles and their parts and components, whether such vehicles be fuel, electric or human powered;
- Repair and maintenance of vehicles;
- Malls and commercial centers;
- Dining and restaurants (delivery and take-out only);
- Hardware stores;
- Clothing and accessories;
- Bookstore and school and office supplies;
- Baby or infant care supplies;
- Pet food and pet care supplies;
- Information technology, communication and electronic equipment;
- Flower, jewelry, novelty, antique and perfume shops;
- Toy stores;
- Firearms and ammunition trading establishments;
- Pastors, priests, rabbi, imams, and other religious ministers insofar as providing home religious services to households.
Are hotels or similar establishments allowed to operate under MECQ?
As a general rule, they are still not allowed to operate except those accommodating the following:
- For areas outside Luzon, guests who have existing booking accommodations for foreigners as of 01 May 2020;
- Guests who have existing long-term bookings;
- Distressed OFWs and stranded Filipinos or foreign nationals;
- Repatriated OFWs in compliance with approved quarantine protocols;
- Non-OFWs who may be required to undergo mandatory facility-based quarantine; and
- Health care workers and other employees from exempted establishments.
Work in all government offices shall operate under a skeleton workforce and with the rest under such alternative work arrangements. Accredited diplomatic missions and international organizations are advised the same.
What modes of transportation are allowed?
- Public shuttle for frontliners or workers in allowed industries. Priority is given to healthcare workers;
- Company or Commissioned shuttle services for employees of the aforementioned establishments. Special permit must be secured form the LTFRB for rented shuttles (50% capacity);
- Personal vehicle (persons/workers in permitted sector or activities; 2 persons per row);
- Bicycle (1-person max);
- Motorcycle (1-person max); and
- E-scooter (1-person max).
At all times, minimum health standards and precautions such as the wearing of masks and the maintenance of social distancing protocols must be observed.
About Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices
If you need assistance in civil, criminal or other aspects of Philippine law, or if you have any business or commercial concerns, especially during these times, we can help you. Nicolas and de Vega Law Offices is a full-service law firm in the Philippines. You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. You may also call us at +632 84706126, +632 84706130, +632 84016392 or e-mail us at [email protected]. Visit our website www.ndvlaw.com.