The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today urged residents of the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal to defer non-essential travel to the rest of the country and even within the bubble area to contain the surge of COVID cases in the country.
“All non-essential travel within and outside of the Greater Metro Manila area should be deferred immediately for the next 2 weeks to contain this surge. All non-essential travel going out and going in the bubble area is prohibited and will not be allowed at all our airports, seaports, and checkpoints,” said DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.
He said that only authorized persons outside of residence (APORs), essential workers, front liners, humanitarian workers, and government workers performing essential functions are exempted from the travel ban provided they can present documents to prove that they are performing essential functions.
"Kung hindi naman mahalaga ang lakad ninyo, ipagpaliban muna ninyo. We know this is a sacrifice for many who have made plans for the Holy Week but this is for the common good. We have to stop the spread otherwise our health care system will be overwhelmed," said Malaya.
He explained that suspending non-essential travel to the provinces is a way to stop possible super spreader events in the provinces where the health care capacity is low and easily overwhelmed.
Aside from travel, Malaya also emphasized that one of the drivers of the surge are indoor gatherings by family members where there is poor ventilation and family members no longer use face masks. “Based on the cluster investigation, majority of the new cases are coming from households and the community therefore we need to stop indoor gatherings of any kind,” he said.
He stressed that persons 18 years old and below and those 65 years old and up are prohibited from going out of their homes unless to access essential services and for outdoor exercise. Also covered by the stay-at-home order are persons with immunodeficiencies and comorbidities as well as pregnant women.
“The goal of the added restrictions is to regulate the movement of people to decrease the spread of COVID-19. So even within the bubble area, we discourage visiting friends and relatives and the use of face masks inside homes are strongly encouraged,” he said.
Working seniors are exempted from this rule and seniors may be allowed to go out to buy essential goods. Persons with disabilities are also allowed to go out but they must present medical certificates or PWD IDs. Seniors and PWDs may be allowed to exercise or undergo therapy outdoors upon presentation of prescriptions from their doctors.
Per Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 104 duly approved by Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte, public transportation at current capacity is allowed with passengers one seat apart, though bicycle, walk, and active transport are likewise encouraged. Commuters are not allowed to converse in public vehicles, make phone calls, and eat or drink.
Malaya also said that Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) and other barangay officials should also distribute face masks and face shields to the homes of the community residents especially to the vulnerable sectors to ensure strict compliance with minimum health standards.
“The National Task Force COVID-19 will distribute free cloth masks to all LGUs in Metro Manila. The DBM-PS and the PITC have procured millions of face masks for distribution to those in need,” he said.
“Sa mga barangays na may pinakamataas na kaso, the NTF will conduct Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) visits to assist LGUs curb the number of cases,” said Malaya.