President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday retained Metro Manila’s general community quarantine (GCQ) status until year-end, prompting residents of the capital region to celebrate Christmas under moderately restrictive lockdown protocols.

Aside from Metro Manila, Duterte’s hometown of Davao City, Iloilo City, Tacloban City, Lanao del Sur and Iligan City will also be under GCQ until Dec. 31.

The rest of the Philippines will be under modified GCQ, the least stringent among the country’s quarantine classifications.

Vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Action Plan vs Covid-19 Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said Metro Manila mayors insisted on retaining the capital region’s GCQ status at least until the end of the holiday season.

The reason, Galvez said, was so the spread of Covid-19 could be limited as Filipinos are expected to gather amid the holiday season.

Metro Manila, which accounts for about a third of the country’s gross domestic product, has been under GCQ since August, with stricter lockdowns enforced in earlier months as COVID-19 infections rose.

The Philippines has recorded 431,630 Covid-19 cases as of Monday. John Ezekiel J. Hirro