By John Ezekiel J. Hirro

The Philippines has added another word to its lexicon of lockdown jargons as its Covid-19 case count continued to shoot up: “NCR-Plus.”

NCR-Plus is a “bubble” composed of Metro Manila (the National Capital Region or NCR), Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna. A bubble refers to an isolated area or clusters of areas in which entry and exit are both prohibited.

Authorities claimed a bubble could prevent diseases, such as Covid-19, from breaking out and spreading further.

NCR-Plus was implemented on Monday. It will be enforced until April 4.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force Covid Shield, said the NCR bubble was created to “isolate this particular NCR-Plus from the rest of Luzon or the country.”

Areas within the NCR-Plus bubble will not be subject to the strictest form of community quarantine and will remain under general community quarantine.

“So, tandaan po natin na within the bubble the movement is not restricted. It is only when crossing the border na iyon ang ating babantayan at… ito po iyong mga (authorized persons outside their residences) na puwedeng mag-cross doon sa mga boundary na ito na lagi nating pinag-uusapan,” Eleazar said.

Only those traveling for medical reasons, traveling abroad, crossing zonal borders for work and medical personnel and other providers of humanitarian assistance are allowed to enter and exit the bubble.

According to Palace spokesman Harry Roque, NCR-Plus would allow for the economy to thrive while limiting the mobility of residents.

Residents living within the bubble will not be given cash aid because they are allowed to work, Roque said.

Minors and those aged above 65, as well as people with co-morbidities, are not allowed to go outside their homes.

Mass gatherings, including those for religious purposes, are also prohibited.

Only open-air entertainment establishments and al fresco restaurants are allowed, albeit only at half capacity. Takeout and delivery services are also allowed.

A 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew is also implemented throughout the bubble’s duration.