LOOK: Scenes across Metro Manila as Luzon lockdown begins

LOOK: Scenes across Metro Manila as Luzon lockdown begins
The capital region pays witness to empty streets, people rushing to get home, and traffic build-up on borders that traverse the Metro and nearby provinces

MANILA, Philippines – At the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, March 17, a broad lockdown on Luzon began as the Philippine government ordered over 57 million residents of the island region to begin home quarantine in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.  

The capital region of Metro Manila was witness to scenes familiar in lockdowns implemented to combat the coronavirus: empty streets, people rushing to get home, and traffic build-up on borders that traverse the Metro and nearby provinces. 

GHOST TOWN. An almost lifeless Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City hours after the government enforces an Enhanced Community Quarantine on March 17, 2020. Photo by Lisa Marie David/Rappler

The usually buzzing Araneta City Cubao was almost empty, save for a few passersby who were on the way home from work.

In different major throughfares in Quezon City, little to no cars could be seen passing.

EMPTY. Traffic-free and almost car-less Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City after President Duterte declares Luzon under Enhance Community Quarantine on March 17, 2020. Photo by Lisa Marie David/Rappler

The scenes inside the Metro Manila region form a sharp contrast to the gridlocks in the borders.

QUEUE. Vehicles continue to pile up at the Quezon City and Rizal Province boundary due to the quarantine control point along Batasan-San Mateo Road midnight, March 17, 2020. Photo by Martin/San Diego/Rappler

At 11:30 pm, vehicles were at a standstill along the Batasan-San Mateo Road along the border of Quezon City and San Mateo. Checkpoint frontliners stationed at the end of the Batasan-San Mateo Road corner General Luna Avenue painstakingly check the temperature of every passenger and pedestrian.  

CHECK. Vehicles continue to pile up at the Quezon City and Rizal Province boundary due to the quarantine control point along Batasan-San Mateo Road midnight, March 17, 2020. Photo by Martin/San Diego/Rappler

Vehicles were attempting to enter San Mateo from both the Quezon City side of the Batasan-San Mateo Road and the Marikina side of General Luna Avenue.

When the clock struck 12, nothing changed. Officials of Barangay Banaba, San Mateo and the police officers at the checkpoint continued getting the temperatures of motorists and inquiring why they were headed into San Mateo. 

The status quo remained, as they have not received any specific directive in relation to the Luzon-wide lockdown.

STRANDED. Commuters wait for public transportation in Alabang, Muntinlupa past the start of the Luzon Lockdown on March 17, 2020. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

At the Strarmall Alabang Terminal, stranded passengers hoping to reach their homes in Bicol and Quezon waited at a deserted parking lot usually full of buses 24 hours a day. Each commuter stood watch to wait and see if a bus would enter to take them to their destination. 

Major roads like the South Luzon Expressway were dotted with few cars close to midnight as drives that would usually take about an hour at least from Pasig to Muntinlupa were completed in half the time.  

CHECKPOINT. A police officer continues to inspect vehicles crossing the Muntinlupa and San Pedro, Laguna boundary as the government implements an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon on March 17, 2020. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

At the border between San Pedro, Laguna and Tunasan, Muntinlupa, traffic stretched on as trucks lined up bumper to bumper to enter Metro Manila.  

Unlike earlier in the day, when police and health workers painstakingly checked each and every commuters’ temperature, the Luzon lockdown brought police a welcome reprieve, allowing some to take a rest as others continued to man checkpoints. 

The  government’s attempt to order 57 million people in 8 regions to stay home follows officials’ struggle to implement strict social distancing measures in the Metro Manila lockdown. 

As of Tuesday, the Philippines reported a steep increase in infections with the number of confirmed cases in the Philippines spiking from 6 to 140 in the span of a week. The confirmed cases included 12 deaths. – Rappler.com