Manila to Enter Month of Lockdown; Curfew Eyed Against Virus
(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines will impose a month-long lockdown on Metro Manila, a region of 12 million people, as authorities intensify the battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
President Rodrigo Duterte will decide on a proposal to impose a curfew in the capital region, his spokesman Salvador Panelo said hours after Metropolitan Manila Development Authority General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr. said a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. will be implemented starting Sunday until April 14. The city will be on lockdown during this period, with schools and government offices largely shut, as the number of local cases climbed this week.
“Local government units can impose curfew within their territories if an ordinance is passed imposing it,” Panelo said in a mobile-phone message. A recommendation by mayors to impose a curfew in Metro Manila “is subject to the approval of the president. The president has yet to consider it,” he said.
The total number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 111 and eight people have died after contracting the virus. Officials said they are also limiting services at the state-run Philippine Heart Center after 13 personnel were exposed to an infected person. Duterte, who tested negative for the coronavirus, is shutting malls, banning movie screenings and concerts as part of the measures.
All flights to and from Manila were fully booked on Saturday, Cebu Air Inc. said in a statement, as people rush to avoid the ban on domestic travel. Photos on social media showed crowds lining up in bus stations since Friday, while supermarkets in the capital were emptied of groceries as shoppers hoard goods amid the uncertainty.
Malls will be shut, while supermarkets, hardware stores, drug stores, banks and health clinics inside them will remain open, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a mobile-phone message on Saturday. A prohibition on mass gatherings comes into effect Sunday.
Other details of the new measures:
- Religious activities may continue as long as a 1-meter radius is maintained between attendees.
- The movement of cargo won’t be affected.
- Workers, whether employed or self-employed, will be allowed to travel to and from Manila. They will need to show proof of employment or business at checkpoints.
- Passengers in taxis, ride-shares, shuttles, jeepneys and buses must sit more than 1 seat apart; motorcycle taxis will be suspended.
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