Leisure travel from Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces to areas under a general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ will now be allowed, provided travelers test negative for COVID-19 and comply with local government guidelines, the Palace said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Harry Roque clarified that while President Rodrigo Duterte had announced in his weekly televised address that NCR Plus areas would be under GCQ for the whole of June, it would actually only be until June 15 upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and Metro Manila mayors.
At a press briefing, Roque said the government has also allowed outdoor non-contact sports; meetings and conferences at 30 percent of the venue capacity; personal care services at 40 percent of operating capacity, and outdoor tourist attractions at 30 percent capacity in areas under GCQ with heightened restrictions, including Metro Manila.
The decision to ease travel restrictions came after the Department o
Tourism asked the IATF to approve travel outside Metro Manila and its nearby provinces or NCR Plus as there were now fewer COVID-19 cases in the area.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said allowing travel outside the NCR Plus, as long as the travelers are tested, would help the country recover from the lost income from the lockdowns imposed during the height of the pandemic.
The IATF has allowed resorts in GCQ areas to operate at 30 percent capacity starting June 1.
On the other hand, bars, concert halls and theaters will still not be allowed to operate while the NCR Plus is under a GCQ.
Roque said also still prohibited are net cafes, billiard halls, arcades, cockfighting arenas, playgrounds, amusement parks and kiddie rides.
“All of entertainment venues are prohibited. Recreational venues are also prohibited,” Roque said during his virtual press briefing. Roque said that indoor sports facilities like gyms are allowed for areas under GCQ, but those under GCQ with restrictions will not be allowed to operate.
Roque said that religious venues can operate up to 30 percent of their capacity, but the local government unit (LGU) may choose to increase this to 50 percent.
The Philippines logged 5,177 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections to 1,235,467, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
The death toll from COVID-19 reached 21,012 as 46 new fatalities were logged.
The DOH also reported 6,230 persons who recently recovered from the disease, bringing the total recoveries to 1,161,252.
This left 53,203 active cases, of which 93.1 percent were mild, 2.3 percent were asymptomatic, 1.4 percent were critical, 1.8 percent were severe, and 1.3 percent were moderate.
The DOH also reported that nationwide, 59 percent of the ICU beds, 47 percent of the isolation beds, 50 percent of the ward beds, 39 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 53 percent of the ICU beds, 40 percent of the isolation beds, 38 percent of the ward beds, and 37 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, urged police and barangay officials to thoroughly study and familiarize themselves with the ordinances on minimum health protocols in their respective areas so as to prevent confusion.
“Ordinances are not uniform, not exactly the same. What is applicable in one city may not be applicable in another, so first and foremost, law enforcement agents assigned in a particular locality, and this goes also to our barangay officials, should be familiar with the prevailing ordinance in their respective areas,” Guevarra said during the press briefing with Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano and Philippine National Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar.
“If they do not know the ordinance, they are in danger of committing mistakes and acting beyond what is allowed by the law. They should know these ordinances so that they know how to act accordingly,” Guevarra added.
The Justice secretary emphasized that law enforcement agents cannot implement what is not included in the ordinance enacted by the respective municipal or city councils.
On Tuesday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the PNP issued a joint memorandum circular on dealing with violations of health and safety ordinances, and quarantine-related violations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Año, Guevara, and Eleazar signed the circular in a virtual ceremony.
Under the guidelines, Año said the DILG will require local government units and the PNP to establish holding areas where the violators will be brought.
He said the minimum health and safety standard violators will not be placed with detainees in jails to avoid overcrowding and transmission of COVID-19.
Año added that local ordinances will determine whether a violator will be put behind bars.
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