In response to a recent surge in COVID-19 infections, the Philippines will expand toughened public health and safety regulations, which are already in effect in Metropolitan Manila, to apply in four provinces that surround the capital city—Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
According to Reuters, presidential spokesman Harry Roque today announced that the tighter COVID-19 restrictions, including nighttime curfews and a ban on mass gatherings, will take effect on March 22 and last for at least the next two weeks.
The Southeast Asian nation recorded 7,757 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, representing its second-highest single-day spike in infections and the third consecutive day that freshly confirmed cases topped 7,000.
“This is not hard lockdown,” Roque clarified during today’s virtual briefing, “but we have additional restrictions.”
Only travel to and from the capital region and surrounding four provinces (which Roque referred to as “the bubble area”) for essential purposes will be allowed. That restricts entry and exit provisions to frontline emergency and healthcare workers, government frontline personnel, those traveling for humanitarian reasons and people bound for the airport for international travel.
While most movement within the so-called bubble area won’t be restricted, anyone under the age of 18 or over the age of 65 will be required to remain indoors.
Weddings, baptisms and funeral services will be permitted to proceed as planned, although gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 10 people.
Restaurants will be allowed to operate but will be restricted to offering delivery, take-out and outdoor dining options.
The health department is urging area residents to maintain maximum adherence to public health regulations, which include the wearing of masks even in their own homes when they’re not by themselves.
Amid the worsening epidemiological situation, the Philippine government is banning entry to all foreign nationals starting March 22, until at least April 21, according to the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. Even for returning nationals, it’s also limiting the number of inbound international passengers to 1,500 per day.