Metro Manila mayors on Thursday, March 11, agreed to impose uniform curfew hours for two weeks, from 10 pm to 5 am, starting Monday, March 15.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos Jr cited the rise in COVID-19 cases in the capital region as the reason behind the decision.
"Kung bumaba naman, puwede nating tanggalin ito as the need arises. (If the cases decline, we can remove the policy as the need arises)," said Abalos.
"Ang iniiwasan po talaga dito 'yong mga umiikot sa baba, ['yong] mga nagka-cluster na mga tao sa mga kalye. Magiging mahigpit po tayo dyan. (What we're trying to prevent here are those who roam around the streets, those who cluster into groups. We will be strict against that)," he said.
What was being practiced before will be in place starting Monday, according to the MMDA chief.
According to Abalos, restaurants can still open for 24 hours to accommodate orders. This means food delivery drivers would have to show an ID in order not to be apprehended during curfew hours.
The same goes for essential workers who go home or leave for work during curfew hours.
"Rest assured, free flowing lahat. Ayaw nating masyadong mang-ipit. (Rest assured, it will be free flowing. We don't want to limit economic activities)," the MMDA chief said.
Penalties will depend on the ordinances to be passed by the local governments, added Abalos.
A number of Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) have already imposed localized lockdowns because of the rise in cases.
"Asahan 'nyo sa susunod na araw, karamihan ng mga local governments gagawin [itong granular lockdown]. (Expect that in the coming days, majority of the local governments will impose granular lockdowns)," said Abalos.
The MMDA has requested 25,000 test kits from the Philippine Red Cross, through the national government, which are being distributed to Metro Manila LGUs.
The metropolitan board will field 300 contact tracers to support the LGUs. The Philippine National Police has also agreed to support contact tracing in cities by providing manpower, according to Abalos.
He added that the public should expect stricter enforcement of public health standards, with local officials and staff doing patrols. – Rappler.com