(UPDATE) The Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 has downgraded the ECQ in Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan one notch to MECQ until April 30.

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More details on the 2021 MECQ are expected on April 12, its first day of implementation.

Take note that the 2021 ECQ is not as strict as the 2020 ECQ. For one, public transport is allowed and app-based deliveries are allowed 24/7. The ECQ has been in force for two weeks, locking down some 24 million people.

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What should we watch out for? Can people inside go in and out of the so-called NCR Plus bubble more easily? Under the 2021 ECQ, people can go in and out of the bubble only for essential travel and deliveries.

Here's a refresher on the MECQ, which was last implemented in August 2020:

What is MECQ?

It is the second-highest under the Philippines' four-step quarantine classification system. It's one notch below ECQ and is stricter than GCQ or General Community Quarantine and MGCQ or Modified General Community Quarantine.

What does MECQ entail?

Strict stay-at-home for everyone, except for APOR or authorized persons outside of residence, these are the people whose industries can operate during MECQ. One per household can go out to buy food and medicine. Based on omnibus IATF guidelines, those aged 21 to 60 can go out.

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Which businesses are open during MECQ?

Allowed at full capacity: hospitals, medical manufacturing, agro-forestry and delivery, and courier services, media, BPO, e-commerce, postal and courier services, real estate, rental and leasing of vehicles and equipment, housing services, and employment activities.

At half capacity: manufacturing, administrative support, financial services including money exchange, legal, advertising and market research, publishing, photography, fashion design, graphic and interior design, wholesale and trade of vehicle parts, vehicle repairs, malls (subject to DTI rules), restaurant takeout and delivery.

Is there public transport during MECQ?

Based on last year's omnibus quarantine guidelines, no. Public transport is suspended during MECQ. However, the 2021 ECQ allows limited public and private transportation.

Are public gatherings allowed during MECQ?

Gatherings are limited to five people during 2020 MECQ. The 2021 ECQ however allowed gatherings such as weddings and funerals with up to 10 people.

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