Gov’t clarifies salient points of quarantine guidelines

March 18 ------ After the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine caused confusion and drew the ire of the public over the implementation of guidelines, the Palace issued on Tuesday additional directives and revisions to previous instructions. At a press briefing in Malacañang, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced new guidelines for the transportation of frontline workers as well as aid for migrant workers and employees who will be temporarily displaced by the quarantine.

Transportation for frontliners

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) was instructed to coordinate with local government units in providing a point-to-point transportation system for health workers and volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross and the World Health Organization. On Monday, several health workers across Luzon were reportedly forced to walk to their workplaces after the government suspended mass transportation as part of the quarantine requirements.

Hotels to limit operations

Hotels and similar establishments are not allowed to operate in Luzon. The exemptions are: hotels/establishments can entertain guests with existing accommodations for foreigners as of March 17, 2020; guests with existing long-term leases; employees from exempted establishments. “No new booking accommodations shall be permitted… Hotel operations shall be limited to the provision of basic lodging to guests,” the new guidelines read.

Labor department to extend assistance to workers

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was authorized to accredit a skeletal staff that will facilitate implementation of a P180-million emergency employment program or the Tulong Panghanap Buhay sa ating Disadvantaged/Displaced workers or TUPAD. A separate IATF technical working group, composed of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) as acting as chair, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, Department of Labor and Employment, and the Office of the President is directed to meet to operationalize the social ameliorization program of government. Business Process Outsourcing or BPO establishments and export-oriented businesses are given 24 hours from issuance of resolution to facilitate their work from home arrangements.

Unimpeded delivery of basic commodities, cargo

The task force also clarified that the Philippine National Police (PNP) will allow all types of cargo to pass through checkpoints subject to its authority to conduct inspection. For this purpose, Memorandum Circular No. 7 issued on March 17, 2020 by the Department of Agriculture is hereby adopted. The delivery services meant to transport food, medicine, and other basic necessities will be allowed to operate during the quarantine period.

Capital markets

Capital markets including but not limited to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Securities and Exchange Commission, Philippine Stock Exchange, Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corporation, Philippine Security Settlement Corporation, and Philippine Depository and Trust Corporation are allowed to operate effective March 18, 2020 subject to qualification of establishing skeletal work forces in respective establishments.

Media accreditation

The provisional period of 72 hours granted to media personnel to continue operating in Luzon is extended until March 21, 2020. After the deadline, only media outfits with IATF accreditation as issued by the PCOO may be exempted form the strict home quarantine requirement.

Overseas Filipino Workers, balikbayans

The Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration (OWWA) shall provide transportation services for returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) for the purpose of ferrying them from international ports to their respective destinations in Luzon. The OFWs, balikbayans, and foreign nationals leaving for abroad through Luzon international ports are allowed to leave the country anytime during quarantine period. However, the passengers should - within 24 hours - proof of international travel itinerary schedule is presented.

Non-essential travel by Filipinos from any port of Luzon shall be suspended.

Departing passengers, on the other hand, cannot be accompanied by more than one person when traveling through an international port. The OWWA personnel will be on hand to assist OFWs headed abroad. Heads of missions or their designated foreign mission personnel and staff may be exempted from strict home quarantine whenever performing diplomatic functions subject to DFA guidelines and protocol on the establishment of skeletal forces are observed.