Metro Manila and the province of Laguna will be under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 21 to 31, Malacañang has announced.

Metro Manila, the center of Philippine commerce, was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the strictest lockdown, from Aug. 6 to 20. Laguna’s ECQ will also lapse on Aug. 20.

Bataan, which is under ECQ until Aug. 21, will also shift to MECQ on Aug. 23, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said.

“Local government units in the said areas are further directed to improve their vaccination rates, prevent-detect-isolate-treat-reintegrate strategies, and observance and compliance to minimum public health standards,” he said.

Banned during MECQ are indoor and al-fresco dine-in services, personal care services including beauty salons, beauty parlors, barbershops and nail spas and on-site religious gatherings.

“The members of the IATF have decided that we all need to be strategic and purposive in our responses to control the further spread of Covid-19 and its variants. Community quarantine is not the only solution to the pandemic,” Roque said.

Unlike in ECQ, families in MECQ areas are not entitled to financial assistance. Roque earlier said that the availability of funds to be used for financial assistance played a huge part in the imposition of ECQ in Metro Manila, which has more than 13 million residents.

Metro Manila was placed under stricter lockdown due to the emergence of cases of the Delta Covid-19 variant, which is more transmissible.

The country recorded 17,231 new Covid-19 cases on Aug. 20, the highest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic broke out. John Ezekiel J. Hirro