In yet another setback for the Philippines’ tourism industry, the government has announced that Metro Manila will be placed under the most restrictive enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20 to stave off a surge of the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19.
Under the ECQ, only essential industries are allowed to operate and public transportation either suspended or limited.
This comes after authorities extended the general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened and additional restrictions in Metro Manila, from July 30 to August 5, with leisure and business travel being prohibited.
Various destinations throughout the Philippines are in varying levels of lockdown.
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have cancelled a number of domestic flights following the immediate suspension of point-to-point flights for leisure. Returning flights are for tourists residing in the NCR Plus (metro Manila plus Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal).
Tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat had informed the travel and tourism sector that from July 30, hotels are not allowed to accept leisure or staycation guests. Staycation guests residing in areas outside Metro Manila have to shorten their stay and return to their place of residence.
Essential meetings and social events are prohibited and dining is not allowed in restaurants in Metro Manila during the GCQ with heightened restrictions and ECQ.
Indoor tourist attractions have already been closed, and while outdoor attractions may operate at 30 per cent of maximum venue capacity, they will have to suspend operations by August 6.
Since July 30, point-to-point travel for leisure from NCR Plus areas has been banned. Accredited establishments outside NCR Plus areas are not allowed to accept leisure guests coming from NCR Plus areas, regardless of the date of the booking.
On August 1, the Philippines recorded 8,735 new Covid-19 cases, and 127 deaths. The country has reported 216 cases of the Delta variant, but health experts say the real number could be higher.
This is the third time metro Manila has entered ECQ, including the first at the onset of Covid-19 in March last year.