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  • Should I Stock Up On Food During Community Quarantine? 7 Important Questions Answered

    Quarantine is different from a lockdown. Here's what you should know.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Should I Stock Up On Food During Community Quarantine? 7 Important Questions Answered
PHOTO BY iStock
  • On Thursday, March 12, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte officially announced a 30-day community quarantine in Metro Manila starting March 15 to April 14, 2020 in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The President also raised Code Red Sublevel 2 for the whole country. (Read what that means here)

    What to expect during the community quarantine period

    But while the President announced measures such as travel bans, school suspensions, prohibition of mass gatherings, and social distancing, Filipinos were still left with unanswered questions, especially on how it will affect their daily lives. Here we try to answer some of the most pressing ones:

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    What is a community quarantine?

    After the announcement, Palace officials were quick to clarify that the community quarantine is different from a lockdown. “The government is essentially calling for a stricter implementation of preventive measures in order to slow down and put a halt to the further spread of COVID-19,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press conference held shortly after President Duterte’s announcement.

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    During the 30-day community quarantine, travel in and out of Metro Manila will be restricted to reduce the spread of the virus. There is now a ban on domestic air, sea, and land travel to and from Metro Manila, starting March 14, 2020. NCR residents are also required to stay indoors and should only leave their homes if absolutely necessary.

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    Classes in all levels are suspended and holding mass gatherings is prohibited. Private companies are encouraged to adopt flexible work arrangements and work-at-home schemes during the quarantine period.

    Mass public transports like the Light Rail Transit (LRT), Metro Rail Transit (MRT), and Philippine National Railways (PNR) will still be operational during the quarantine period but they must adopt “social distancing guidelines.”

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    How will the travel ban affect workers living outside Metro Manila but who work in the city?

    Employees from nearby cities and provinces who work in Metro Manila will be allowed to go to work provided they go through designated checkpoints, show their company ID as proof that they are working in Metro Manila, and follow precautionary measures like hand sanitation and temperature check, according to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año in a radio interview with DZMM.

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    Checkpoints in and out of the metro will be manned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Another meeting will be held to iron out the guidelines, according to DILG undersecretary Jonathan Malaya.

    The DTI has also recommended that manufacturing, retail, and establishments, as well as banks remain open to the public on the condition that they undertake the various precautions advised by the DOH.

    Will the travel ban affect the transportation of food and cargo goods to and from Metro Manila?

    Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez also clarified in a press conference today that shipments of food and goods in and out of NCR will remain unchanged during the community quarantine.

    “Work will continue. May mga opisina, restaurants, mga malls, lahat ng napupuntahan natin ay bukas po ‘yun. At dahil bukas ‘yun, definitely the supply of goods both food and non-food, mga cargos can move in and out of Metro Manila,” said Secretary Lopez. “The importance of that is to secure the continuity of supply. Importante po na may supply parati tayo sa ating lugar kahit [naka-quarantine] including personal care products.”

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    Should I stock up on food and other basic goods?

    In a separate press conference, Agriculture Secretary William Dar assured the public that there is enough supply of food for Metro Manila residents for the duration of the 30-day community quarantine. This includes rice, vegetables and root crops, poultry and meat, and fish.

    “[It’s] more than enough to meet the demands here in Metro Manila," Secretary Dar said, adding that residents should not resort to panic-buying during the quarantine period.

    “Let’s buy what is needed. Goods, say for three to four days, but not two weeks or more. There is enough food supply,” Dar emphasized.

    Previously, Secretary Panelo made an announcement that “The Office of the President hereby gives warning to those hoarding vital commodities, which create a hike in the prices, as well as selling them beyond their regular prices, that their actions will be dealt with accordingly in pursuance of public safety and order.”

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    Secretary Lopez affirmed this mandate by saying that the DTI, DILG, PNP, and NBI will be working together to intensify the searchfor hoarders and profiteers, including businessmen who overstock their warehouses as well as online sellers.

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    What if prices suddenly increase because of the community quarantine?

    Secretary Lopez declared that there will be a 60-day price freeze for food, medicine and other medical supplies, and some agricultural products. This includes rice, corn, cooking oil, fresh or dried and other marine products, fresh eggs, pork, beef, and poultry meat, sugar, and fresh vegetables. LPG and kerosene is also covered by the price freeze.

    Are Church masses and mass gatherings allowed?

    Mass gatherings like concerts, large seminars, conventions, sporting events, and social gatherings will be prohibited during the community quarantine period. The Archdiocese of Manila has already cancelled Holy Mass schedules and church activities from March 14 until March 20.

    How will the travel ban affect international flights?

    The Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be operational but passengers from international flights who are entering Metro Manila will need to remain in NCR until the domestic travel ban is lifted, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in a press conference held at Malacañang today, March 13, 2020.

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    Passengers who wish to go to provinces outside Metro Manila, are encouraged to fly in via Clark and Cebu international airports or airports not under quarantine, Nograles added.

    The suspension on domestic travel will be reviewed daily and may be lifted earlier or extended if the situation permits it.

    While the number of people with COVID-19 is expected to rise in the coming days, there is no reason to panic because we can beat the virus. Click here for ways how we can protect ourselves from the disease.

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