Observant Filipinos might perceive that the general COVID-19 pandemic control situation has been in something of a holding pattern, ever since the upping of quarantine levels at the “NCR Plus” area earlier this year. Restrictions have been gradually loosening up since then, but it never quite seemed significant. Health and safety protocols are still up even for fully vaccinated people because there are not enough of them for herd immunity. And vaccination could not speed up because of low vaccine supply. The next deadline for CQ updates across the country came this past Thursday, and the new statuses appear significant.

CNN Philippines reports that the National Capital Region (NCR) as well as several other areas in the Philippines are now under regular General Community Quarantine as of July 15. For those wondering what the difference was considering the previous status was “modified” GCQ, the “regular” descriptor means there are no more special restrictions attached to GCQ status. For instance, before July 15 the NCR and nearby Bulacan and Rizal were under GCQ “with restrictions,” while Cavite was “GCQ with heightened restrictions.” Under “regular” GCQ the statuses of these communities are now under the basic unmodified definition of General Community Quarantine.

The new CQ status updates, as announced yesterday by Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, will remain until the end of this month, July, as recommended by the OCTA Research Group. Already the removing of the final added restrictions to GCQ in Metro Manila, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal is remarkably generous, when one notes that the country has already issued travel bans to neighboring Indonesia, India, UAE and other countries to prevent a widespread entry to the even more transmissible Delta mutation of COVID-19. And in fact, there are still locations that have heightened GCQ, or even Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, following the new nationwide CQ changes.

In descending order of community quarantine level, here first are the current MECQ-level cities and provinces by region: Bataan in Central Luzon; Iloilo City and Iloilo Province (until July 22) in Western Visayas; Cagayan De Oro City in Northern Mindanao; Davao De Oro, Davao Del Norte, Davao Del Sur and Davao Occidental in the Davao Region; and Butuan City in Caraga.

Next, the regular GCQ status now applies to the following areas outside of NCR, Bulacan, Cavite and Rizal: Batangas and Quezon in CALABARZON; Puerto Princesa in MIMAROPA; Guimaras and Negros Occidental in Western Visayas; Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga Del Norte at the Zamboanga Peninsula; Davao Oriental in Davao Region; all of SOCCSKSARGEN; and the rest of Caraga except Butuan. All other provinces and independent cities of the Philippines not mentioned in the above classifications will remain under Modified GCQ , or GCQ with restrictions, until July 31.

Image from ABS-CBN News