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‘Tiny bubbles,’ APOR, 'ayuda,' and everything you need to know about #ECQSeason3

By SAAB LARIOSA Published Aug 06, 2021 5:05 pm Updated Aug 06, 2021 10:35 pm

The strictest lockdown classification is once again in full swing as the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is being implemented in Metro Manila amid the rise of COVID-19 cases and the highly contagious Delta variant in the country.

Now on its third iteration after it was first imposed in March 2020 and then in March 2021, here are some need-to-knows for Metro Manila's latest ECQ.

How long will this last?

The ECQ will be implemented for two weeks starting Friday, Aug. 6 until Friday, Aug. 20. Metro Manila has also implemented a curfew from 8 PM to 4 AM.

Can I go out? What is an APOR?

Only Authorized Persons of Residence (APOR) are allowed to go out regularly during the ECQ. Per the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) ECQ Omnibus Guidelines, the list of APORs include:

  • Health and emergency frontline services and uniformed personnel;
  • Government officials and employees on official travel;
  • Duly authorized humanitarian assistance actors;
  • Persons traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons, and those leaving their residence to be vaccinated (with proof of schedule), and persons availing of DFA consular services (with confirmed appointments);
  • Persons going to and from the airport including overseas Filipino workers carrying Overseas Employment Certificates;
  • Any person whose purpose of travel to the zone of destination is for work, business, or activity that is also permitted in areas under ECQ;
  • Public utility vehicle (PUV) operators.

For the rest, they may only leave their homes to gather essential goods and services from permitted establishments.

Pregnant women, senior citizens, children below 18, and people with comorbidities or immunodeficiencies are also refrained from going outside while in ECQ.

Are all types of APORs allowed to go out any time of day? Also, I heard something about “tiny bubbles”?

Per Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Guillermo Eleazar, APORs are classified into three groups:

  1. Workforce APORs: Those who are required to work on-site in permitted industries. They are NOT covered by curfew hours.
  2. Consumer APORs: Those who need to buy essential goods. They are only allowed to go outside during curfew hours.
  3. Other APORs: Those going out for “humanitarian and medical reasons” such as emergencies and vaccinations.

Consumer APORs are not allowed to leave their locality/city or the “tiny bubble,” as coined by Eleazar. 

If I’m an APOR, do I need to show my previous quarantine pass? Or will my company ID suffice?

The IATF Omnibus Guidelines state that APORs may present any of the following IDs to law enforcement agencies if requested:

  • IATF IDs issued by the regulatory agencies;
  • Valid IDs or other pertinent documentation issued by accrediting organizations or establishments allowed under GCQ;
  • If required by the LGU, local IDs (such as quarantine passes) for availing of essential goods and services.
If I can’t go out, can I drive a housedhold member who is an APOR to work and back?

Non-APORs are allowed to drive their family members to and fro their place of work. Hatid-Sundo non-APOR drivers need to bring:

  • APOR’s Certificate of Employment with (1) Name of designated Non-APOR driver (2) Vehicle and plate number of car used, and (3) Contact number of employer;
  • Copy of employer’s business permit.

If I can go out, will there be public transport?

Yes, there will be continued public transportation for APORs. Per the Department of Transportation, PUVs will only perform at “such capacity and supply as recommended by the DOTr.”

Will there be cash assistance?

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has promised PHP13.1 billion of cash assistance or ‘ayuda’ from government savings will be distributed for 10M Metro Manila residents. 

This translates to P1,000 per individual or a maximum of P4,000 per family. 

What happens if I can’t pay my utilities?

Fear not, as Meralco has promised that they will temporarily suspend disconnection services for areas under ECQ and MECQ.  Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water also won’t cut off water services during ECQ.

Meanwhile, telcos such as Smart under PLDT and Globe have launched initiatives such as virtual bookings and mobile stores for customers who need their services amid the lockdown.

Are hospitals still open?

Yes, public and private hospitals are some of the establishments allowed full on-site capacity during ECQ. Other establishments given permission to operate in full capacity are:

  • Health emergency and frontline services
  • Medicine and vitamin manufacturers
  • Agriculture industries
  • Logistics service providers
  • Essential construction sites
  • Manufacturing related to food and other essential goods
  • Companies that manufacture, distribute, and/or supply equipment or products necessary to perform construction or maintenance work
  • Public markets, supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies or drug stores, hardware, office supplies, bicycle shops, laundry shops, and water-refilling stations
  • Food preparation establishments
  • Public and private financial service providers involved in the distribution of government grants and amelioration subsidies
  • Business process outsourcing establishments (BPOs)
  • Public transport providers and operators;
Will this two-week ECQ be extended?

Malacanang has said that they will maximize the ECQ, but statements from government officials indicate that any extension will depend on the number of COVID-19 infections during the lockdown.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles has said that they will continue to monitor the rising COVID-19 numbers.

“Imo-monitor natin ‘yung numbers, imo-monitor natin ‘yung vaccination rollout. We’ll take it one day at a time but also mindful about August 20, so that’s at the back of our heads. We’re looking at projections,” he shared with ANC.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also said to ANC that: “[DOH] will be closely monitoring and we will be assessing if we still need to extend after two weeks or we can further de-escalate after two weeks depending on the number of cases.”

As of writing, the DOH has reported that all 17 areas in NCR have confirmed Delta variant cases, while over 10.7 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated. This translates to 9.81% of the population being jabbed.

Ok. I think I need a drink. Is there a liquor ban?

Well, it depends where you’re from.

According to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Benhur Abalos: Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Mandaluyong, Parañaque, Pasay, Navotas, Pateros, Quezon City, and San Juan have imposed liquor bans during the two-week ECQ.

Meanwhile, Pasig, Taguig and Las Piñas are not imposing a ban, for now at least.

(Thumbnail and banner photo: Police personnel check documents of motorists at a quarantine control checkpoint  in Alabang Zapote road on Friday, August 06, 2021 as the ECQ takes effect. KJ Rosales/The Philippine STAR)