Malacanang issues guidelines amid COVID-19

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Malacanang on Saturday released guidelines on social distancing and other measures to be taken amid the rising cases of deaths and infections of the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Called the “Stringent social distancing measures and further guidelines for the management of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation”, the memorandum was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, and sent to the Heads of Departments, Agencies, Offices and Instrumentalities of the Government, Government-Owned or –Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), Government Financial Institutions (GFIs), State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), and Local Government Units (LGUs).

The guidelines was issued amid the issuance earlier of the Joint Resolution Nos. 11 and 12 (s.2020) of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (Task Force) relative to the management of the COVID-19 situation,  in light of the  decision of the Department of Health (DOH) to raise the Code Alert System for the COVID-19 in the country to Code Red Sublevel 2, following the sharp increase in the number of confirmed  COVID-19 cases nationwide.

The memo said, pursuant to the Joint Resolutions, Proclamation No. 922 and Republic Act 11332, all concerned government offices and agencies are hereby informed and directed to adopt, coordinate and implement the following  guidelines on the imposition of the stringent distancing measures in the National Capital Region (NCR) for 30 days starting 12 midnight of March 15, 2020 until 12 midnight of April 14, 2020, unless another period is provided.

Among the guidelines indicated are as follows:

Classes and all school activities in all levels shall continue to be suspended until April 14, 2020.  The Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical  Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and other regulatory agencies shall ensure that all SUCs, schools, universities and other educational or training institutions provide adequate arrangements to allow students to continue fulfilling the requirements during the said period.

All LGUs, assisted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall be responsible for implementing measures to ensure that students remain in their homes during class suspension.

Mass gatherings shall be prohibited. This includes movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work-related gatherings.  Essential work-related meetings and religious activities may continue so long as strict social distancing, with a strict maintenance of distance of at least one meter radius between those attending the gatherings during the event.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shall ensure that private establishments in operation strictly maintain social distancing in their businesses.

Community quarantine is hereby imposed “over the entire NCR.”  LGUs shall abide by the directives of the Department of Health (DOH) and the DILG in the imposition of general and enhanced  community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions. Provided,  Community Quarantine shall be defined as follows:

  1. General community quarantine—where movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points.
  2. Enhanced community quarantine—where strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households; transportation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated; and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented.

Subject to qualifications the IATF may provide, all under general community quarantine shall implement the following.

  1. Restrict the non-essential entry of people to the contained area, especially who are high risk, eg 60-years-old and above, those who are immunocompromised, with co-morbidities, and pregnant women, except: health workers;  2. authorized government officials; 3. those travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons; 4. persons transiting to airport for travel abroad; 5. persons providing basic services and public utilities; and 6.  essential skeletal workforce.
  2. Prevent the non-essential exit of people out of the contained area, except: 1. health workers; 2. authorized government officials; 3. those travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons; and 4. those who were granted entry based on the above-mentioned provisions. Provided, that all persons leaving the contained community must be checked for signs and symptoms, (e.g. fever, respiratory symptoms, diarrhea), at exit  checkpoint where:   appropriate certification will be issued by the competent health authorities (DOH or Provincial/City/Municipal Health Office); 2. health authority endorses exiting person to recipient LGUs; 3. exiting  persons must undertake 14-day home-based quarantine; and 4. LGUs are required to monitor implementation of home-based quarantine.

 

LGUs which have imposed community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions, upon declaration of a State of Calamity, shall be allowed to access their Quick Response Fund.

Alternative working arrangements, including but not limited to, work-from-home, compressed work week, staggered working hours, and creation of skeletal workforces, will be implemented in the Executive branch. All members of the PNP, AFP and PCG, and health and emergency frontline services are directed to continue full operation. The Legislative and Judicial branches of government, as well as the  independent constitutional bodies, are encouraged  to adopt the policy.

Flexible work arrangements shall be encouraged in the private sector. Pertinent advisories and guidelines of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the DTI shall apply. All manufacturing, retail and service establishments are advised to remain open. In all cases, strict social distancing measures are required  to be observed by their respective managements.

Mass public transport facilities, including the Light Rail Transit (LRT), the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) shall continue in operation.  Social distancing shall be observed.

Land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from the NCR shall be restricted. All workers, whether employed or self-employed, will be provisionally allowed to travel to and from the NCR, subject to review by the IATF if public health considerations  so warrant. Provided, that proof of employment and /or business must be presented at border checkpoints.

All departing passengers shall be allowed transit through the NCR. Provided, that proof of confirmed international travel itinerary scheduled within 12 hours from entry should be presented at checkpoints. Provided, further that the aforementioned provisions shall not be interpreted to allow outbound travel to countries where travel restrictions are in place; and

The movement of cargoes to and the NCR, or in such other places which may be the subject of a community quarantine shall be unhampered.

LGUs outside of the NCR are advised to exercise sound discretion in suspending classes in their respective jurisdictions, provided that measures and arrangements are in place to allow students to continue fulfilling their requirements, in coordination with the DepEd or CHED. LGUs shall be responsible in ensuring students remain in their homes when classes are suspended.

Balik-Manggagawa Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) shall be allowed to travel to mainland China, except to Hubei Province, upon execution of a Declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved. In all cases, the DOLE shall issue a health advisory guide to the OFWs, upon departure.

Inbound travelers from Iran and Italy are required to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within 48 hours immediately preceding departure, signifying that the traveler has tested negative for COVID-19. Provided, that this provision shall not apply to Filipino citizens including their foreign spouses and children, if any, holders of Permanent Resident Visa, and  holders of 9(e) Diplomat Visas issued by the Philippine Government. All previous travel restrictions by the IATF shall remain in effect.

The DOH is authorized to grant exemptions, based on humanitarian considerations, in favor of outbound travelers traveling to jurisdictions where travel restrictions are currently in place.

The IATF shall establish regional inter-agency task groups in all of the regions in the country, Further, the DOH with the aid of law enforcement agencies shall form composite teams to ensure enhanced contact-tracing and containment measures in all parts of the country.

Failure to abide by the foregoing guidelines and measures shall be meted with appropriate action. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is directed to initiate appropriate charges as may be warranted for those violating the guidelines and measures.

The IATF, with concerned government officials and members of agencies,  and those who may be may invited, shall convene daily to study and continuously review the measures and guidelines in addressing the COVID-19 situation, until such time that the health event subsides.

Finally, member agencies of the IATF and other identified agencies are directed to finalize and submit their respective guidelines in the implementation of Community Quarantine to the DOH by March 14, 2020.

Protocols of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on social amelioration are approved in principle subject to the condition that these protocols and /or guidelines adhere to the parameters set by the IATF./Stacy Ang

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