The Philippines had a brief respite from the COVID-19 pandemic recently, but it didn’t last very long. With new issues emerging, existing health restrictions that should have been lifted by now are going to remain in place a little longer. Metro Manila is the hardest hit, and will stay on “modified enhanced community quarantine” until at least September 15.
Manila Struggles with COVID-19
It had previously been expected that Manila would relax its COVID-19 health protocols as of yesterday, September 8. However, there doesn’t seem to be a clear end to the problems caused by the pandemic, and the protocols were extended this week. Just this past Monday, Harry Roque, spokesperson for President Rodrigo Duterte, asserted that Metro Manila would move to “general community quarantine” beginning today; however, that changed yesterday when it was announced that the “modified enhanced community quarantine” would remain.
Some localized areas around Metro Manila have it worse. These will likely keep the stricter quarantine rules in place longer, possibly until the end of the month. The government refers to these hotspots as being targets of “granular” lockdowns, which follow a four-level system. This is a pilot program that will be followed and reviewed every two weeks to determine if movement in the level can be approved.
In Alert Level 4, no one is able to leave their homes, except for those in the healthcare field. Alert Level 3 eases that restriction to 30% of local residents and Level 2 moves it to 50%. Level 1 is the least restrictive and is described by local media as “the new normal.”
Lockdowns to be Isolated to Certain Areas
The granular lockdowns are limited to neighborhoods and subdivisions, allowing other areas to see some limited economic recovery. However, any restrictions are still likely to impact casino operations at Entertainment City and elsewhere, with only limited movement now allowed. With the enhanced quarantine prohibiting indoor restaurant dining, beauty salons and similar activity, being able to enjoy a normal day out on the town becomes virtually impossible.
Manila has constantly fought COVID-19 since the pandemic began and has had trouble bringing it under control. Elsewhere in the country, the situation hasn’t been as severe, but Manila hasn’t been able to prevent almost constant outbreaks and new spikes. The economic strain is getting worse, now becoming the impetus for Duterte to change his stance on gambling. He has become more amenable to casinos, which has facilitated the resurrection of one project and the development of another in the island city of Boracay.