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Metro Manila mayors to implement uniform curfew hours from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting March 15

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Mar 11, 2021 8:50 am Updated Mar 11, 2021 10:23 pm

Metro Manila mayors have agreed to implement unified curfew hours from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for two weeks starting Monday, March 15, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos Jr. announced Thursday evening.

Abalos said the decision was made after the Metro Manila Council’s meeting with the Department of Health and the UP OCTA Research team, which showed “alarming” numbers of new COVID-19 cases in the country.

“We had a meeting with the UP OCTA Research team. And from Feb. 4 to 10, new cases per day are at 360. From March 4 to 10—from 360—it reached 1,411 in NCR. And according to their figures, from eight percent of new cases, it reached 60 percent from March 4 to 10. The numbers are quite alarming as far as NCR mayors are concerned,” he said.

Early this week, the Department of Interior and Local Government called for the Metro Manila mayors to adopt uniform curfew hours across 16 cities and one municipality of the region, especially after some cities like San Juan City, Quezon City, Muntinlupa City and Parañaque City re-imposed new curfew hours to curb the increase of COVID-19 cases.

“A resolution is being drafted and will be signed by all mayors. This will only be for two weeks. Kung ito ay may improvement, maaaring tanggalin na po,” Abalos said.

In a virtual press briefing, Abalos said even with the curfew, establishments and essential services like restaurants can operate for 24 hours. Food delivery services would also be allowed beyond the curfew hours but their drivers would need to present a work ID or certificate so they won’t be apprehended.

Since March 4, the country has seen more than 3,000 cases daily. An increase in COVID-19 cases is reportedly seen across NCR and Region 7.

The rise of COVID-19 infections comes on the heels of the country's first vaccine rollouts for frontline healthcare workers. Recently, the government gave the green light to some businesses and industries to reopen and further expand under general community quarantine (GCQ), subject to operational guidelines. Some local travel rules have also been eased.

Metro Manila Council chair and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez said in an interview on Thursday morning with CNN Philippines’ The Source that active cases in Metro Manila rose 200 percent in the last two weeks.

“What we need to do is full implementation of minimum health standards such as wearing of face mask, face shield, social distancing, and prohibition of gatherings of more than 10 people,” said Olivarez.

In an interview with ANC Thursday morning, San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said that the city had an increase of 133 COVID-19 cases in a span of 10 days, which is “very high” compared to the past few months.

“What we’re doing now is the same thing that we’ve been doing for the last year. In fact, we have not really changed any of our protocols because they have been working for us except that the last possibly seven to 10 days in the entire Metro Manila, we have seen the numbers increasing and you hear about the new variants coming in and how they spread faster than the usual variants,” he said.

Meanwhile, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said in a press briefing on Wednesday that they have yet to see the need to impose a citywide lockdown but are keen on implementing more restrictions.

“We are not yet at the stage where we should be locking down our city. I think we are at the stage where we should be adopting restrictions that we think will help curtail the spread of the virus,” said Belmonte.

Belmonte said the daily average of COVID-19 cases in the city has reached at 218 from March 2 to 8, which is 190% higher than its recorded 75 cases per day from Feb. 2 to 8.

Upon consultation with the experts, Belmonte said the different COVID-19 variants that are present in the city may be the reason behind the sharp increase in its cases.

There are currently 13 barangays and at least 500 families that are affected by the lockdowns in Quezon City.

Other cities that have imposed localized lockdowns include Manila and Mandaluyong City.

As of this writing, the Philippines has 3,749 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, which brings to the total number of cases in the country at 607,048. 

Banner and thumbnail photo by Miguel de Guzman/The Philippine STAR