Entire Luzon island now on lockdown

The entire Luzon island in northern Philippines – not just Metro Manila – is on a month-long lockdown which began on March 17, following the sharp increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines.

The enhanced community quarantine measures now includes strict home quarantine for all households; suspension of mass public transport facilities and limited use of private vehicles; restricted land, air and sea travel; as well as temporary closure of establishments like malls and gaming; among other restrictions. Outbound passengers have also been given three days to leave.

Luzon island has been placed on a month-long lockdown; aerial view of Port of Manila at Manila Bay in Luzon island pictured

Hotels and similar establishments are also to remain closed during the lockdown, the Department of Tourism (DoT) said yesterday, except those with foreign guests that have existing bookings as of March 17; those with long-staying guests; and those accommodating employees from exempted establishments.

However, foreign tourists, overseas Filipino workers, and visiting Filipinos will be allowed to leave any time during the Luzon lockdown provided they travel only to the airport within 24 hours of their departure time, the DoT added.

Tourist destinations in Luzon apart from Metro Manila include Tagaytay, Batangas, Clark, Zambales, Baguio, Sagada, Batanes, and Ilocos and Bicol regions.

But since the previous community quarantine was announced in Metro Manila on Monday – which didn’t include home quarantine and the suspension of mass public transport then – destinations like Visayas and Mindanao have followed suit.

As the situation becomes more dire with 142 confirmed Covid-19 cases, majority of which are in Luzon, the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) has listed seven additional recommendations to ensure the industry’s survival, one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

On March 6, TCP had already proposed to the DoT fiscal and other measures to help the tourism sector. On March 13, TCP’s president Jojo Clemente added six more proposals.

These additional recommendations are a minimum six-month moratorium on bank loan payment, credit card payments and corporate income tax fee reduction for accredited tourism industry stakeholders, subject to review of prevailing business conditions; grants, low-interest loans, subsidies and so on for tourism industry workers who will lose their jobs; and suspend for a minimum of one month the payments for water, electricity and Internet; office rental; and value-added tax on basic commodities.

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