One Year After Lockdown in Philippines: How It Started, How It's Going

How it started vs how it's going.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

The Philippines is fighting a fresh surge in coronavirus infections on the first year anniversary of the lockdown that altered the lives of millions

Since then, face masks, sanitizers, and physical distancing have become a way of life as humanity waits for vaccines to take effect and hopefully pave the way for the new normal.

Here's a look at how pandemic life started in the Philippines and how it's going a year since the first ECQ or enhanced community quarantine.

How it started: Face masks only

How it's going: Face mask with face shield combo

Jerome Ascano
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When the Philippines first placed Luzon under enhanced community quarantine, Filipinos who are allowed to go out were required to wear face masks in public places. Authorities even encouraged wearing face masks even at home. 

A year on, face masks are still a staple along with new gear -- face shields.  It was during the latter part of 2020 when the government was easing COVID-19 restrictions that the general public was required to wear face shields on top of face masks.

And with the country seeing a surge in new COVID-19 infections, health authorities have also urged the public to consider wearing a double face mask due to the threat of new virus variants.


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How it started: Strict stay-at-home orders

How it's going: Curfews

Jerome Ascaño
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At the start of the lockdowns, people were ordered to strictly stay at home to help control the spread of the virus. Local government units rationed food supplies to those who need it and quarantine passes were issued to limit the number of people going out to buy basic necessities at a time.

A year later, people have mostly been encouraged to go out to help spur economic activity but should still strictly observe minimum health standards -- face masks, face shields, physical distancing--at all times.

A uniform curfew in Metro Manila however was reimposed for two weeks from March 15 to help tame a spike in COVID-19 infections.


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How it started: Work-from-Home, online selling booms

How it's going: Office life is returning

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When stay-at-home orders prevented the general public from going to work, companies shifted to work-from-home schemes to adjust to the pandemic. But not all companies survived. 

For millions of Filipinos, the pandemic killed their livelihoods and sources of income prompting new and innovative ways to make money. Many turned to online selling while others put up home businesses that gave rise to quarantine favorite treats such as ube pandesal, and sushi bake. Some retrenched workers also shifted jobs to become delivery riders as demand rose with limited transportation options.

This year, some companies have reopened their offices to employees with the rule that strict health standards are observed.


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How it started: 'Ayuda' helped Filipinos get by

How it's going: Businesses have resumed, economy is trying to recover

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When the lockdowns cut many Filipinos from their livelihoods, authorities, particularly those in local government units, worked to ensure that households would have food on the table.

Aside from the financial assistance from the national government, LGUs distributed relief packs too, commonly known as "ayuda." Some mayors earned praise for quality relief goods while others drew flak for supposedly poor service.

A year later, the economy has mostly reopened allowing Filipinos to return to work or find new ways to earn income.


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How it started: Quarantine passes are a must

How it's going: Leisure travel is a go with strict protocols

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In the early days of the lockdown, each household needs to have a representative, a "tribute" as some millennials and Gen Zs call it, who is allowed to go out of their home to buy supplies and other basic necessities.

For those who are authorized to go out, they carry with them their quarantine pass -- a card issued by the barangay or local government to those who can leave their homes.

A year later, quarantine passes have become a thing of the past as most people have been generally allowed to go out.

For areas under modified general community quarantine or the most relaxed type of restriction, COVID-19 protocols have been generally eased with leisure travel even allowed.


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How it started: Online shopping apps boomed

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How it's going: Malls are back but with new rules

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Lazada and Shopee were a hit during the lockdown as Filipinos relied on these for their necessities. It was only late last year when the government mostly eased protocols for malls allowing most of them to reopen restaurants and other stores.

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But a trip to the mall nowadays is not as simple as before. One must wear a face mask and a face shield. In some malls, having the StaySafe.PH app is a must too for contact tracing purposes.


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How it started: Food delivery is life

How it's going: New normal for dining in

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The pandemic forced many restaurants to shift their operations to food delivery to stay afloat with customers barred from leaving their homes.

It added to the popularity of apps such as Foodpanda, and Grab's GrabFood, which have already been growing even before the pandemic. Even buffets and hotels placed their food offerings on delivery apps just to stay afloat.

A year later, people can again dine-in restaurants but are required to observe strict COVID-19 protocols.


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The pandemic has ushered in a new normal for humanity. In the Philippines, protocols are continuously evolving to keep up with new pandemic developments and as COVID-19 vaccines start to become available.

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