VIGAN CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire island of Luzon, home to over 57 million people and the 4th most populated island in the world according to Wikipedia, under total lockdown today, March 17, as cases of coronavirus disease continue to spread in the country.
The order comes just two days after the national government placed Metro Manila under “community quarantine” on March 15 attempting to restrict the movement of people in and out of the National Capital Region (NCR) to those working in the cities, those providing basic goods or needing medical services only. However, the partial lockdown only resulted to long lines of cars and motorists, and heavy traffic at the checkpoints as authorities struggled to check the millions of commuters moving in and out of NCR daily.
“I have come to the conclusion that stricter measures are necessary. For this reason, pursuant to my powers as President under the Constitution and RA 11332 (Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases), I am placing the entire mainland of Luzon under quarantine until April 12, 2020,” President Duterte said in his message aired Monday evening.
Under the Enhanced Community Quarantine, “strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households; transportation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential services shall be regulated; and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented.”
The quarantine orders a work-from-home arrangement for those working in the Executive branch of the government, except for the PNP, AFP, PCG, and health and emergency frontline service, border control and other critical services.
Work in private establishments are suspended except for those providing basic necessities, and those providing food and medicine production, including public markets, groceries, convenience stores, food manufacturers, water delivery, hospitals, clinics, drug stores, banks, money transfer services, power, water and telecommunications.
Mass public transport is also suspended. Land, air and sea travel are restricted. Outbound passengers intending to leave the country are given 72 hours from the effectivity of the quarantine order to depart from any international airport in Luzon.
The President has ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment to formulate programs, projects and measures to support workers and residents affected by the quarantine. The DSWD is further directed to distribute food assistance to the most affected residents of Luzon.
As of Monday afternoon, the Philippines has recorded at least 140 cases of the coronavirus disease, including 12 deaths. The virus has infected over 169,000 people and killed more than 6,000 worldwide.