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TIMELINE: All Quarantine Classifications Since the Pandemic Started

All 15 seasons of it.
by Clara Rosales
May 14, 2021
Photo/s: Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

(UPDATE) TV series and dramas are often bookmarked by seasons, with each major story development referred to as an arc. For the Filipino stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become customary to track quarantine classifications in seasons, too.

The Philippines has a 4-step classification system: the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) is the strictest, followed by Modified Enhanced Community Quarantin (MECQ), General Community Quarantine (GCQ), and Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) as the loosest.


Lockdown Anniversary: How are Filipino Frontliners Doing?

Here's a timeline of all the quarantine classifications we've experienced since March 2020:

Luzon Community Quarantine (March 16 - April 14, 2020)

Officemates and classmates exchanged goodbyes for the day, thinking that they'd see each other again in a month. They were wrong.

The first classification was limited to the Philippines' biggest island and saw a complete shutdown of operations, businesses, and even transportation in an attempt to arrest the spread of the virus. The announcement gave the public 72 hours to fly home and buy essentials.

Continue reading below ↓

Little was known about the contagious disease at that time, companies had to retrench employees, and the future of travel was uncertain.

ECQ (April 15 - May 15, 2020)

Clearer guidelines were made available to companies and institutions to allow for employees to work even during quarantines. Shifts to remote and online work were made, while some were on a limited skeletal force.

Wearing of face masks and face shields were made mandatory.

MECQ (May 16 - 31, 2020)

The quarantine classification shifted one notch lower for two weeks, with GCQ or MGCQ on the horizon for other areas.

GCQ (June 1 - Aug. 3, 2020)

Metro Manila was under GCQ for a month. At this time, Cebu City was the epicenter of the resporatory disease.

Due to retrenchments, closed businesses, and majority of industries on pause, the country's economic managers were pushing for recovery balanced with healthcare protocols.

Back to MECQ (August 4 - 18, 2020)

Healthcare systems were overwhelmed, prompting medical frontliners to demand for a "timeout" in hopes that stricter quarantines could lessen the number of COVID-positive patients in hospitals.

Continue reading below ↓
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In response to the callout, Metro Manila was once again placed under MECQ.

The economy officially sank into a recession. That's at least two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction.

GCQ (Aug. 19 - 31, 2020)

After the two-week timeout, the capital region shifted back to a looser GCQ. Cases continued to climb during the latter half of August, triggering a shift to MECQ come September.

MECQ (Sept. 1 - Oct. 31, 2020)

Batanes recorded its first case of COVID-19 on September 28, six months after quarantines began. It was the last province reached by the viral disease.

Indonesia surpassed the Philippines in number of confirmed cases and related deaths due to COVID-19.

GCQ (Nov. 1, 2020 -March 21, 2021)

The Philippines breached the 500,000 mark for COVID-19 cases, less than a year after the first reported case.

The country then ranked at 32nd with the most cases in the world, and second in Southeast Asia next to Indonesia.

Continue reading below ↓

On Feb. 28, the first shipment of Sinovac vaccines from China arrived.

ECQ 2021 / NCR Plus Bubble (March 21 - April 11, 2021)

Metro Manila and surrounding areas called the NCR Plus Bubble were once again placed under the strictest form of quarantine after the country recorded surges from All Souls' Day in November, Christmas in December, and New Year's Day and the Feast of the Black Nazarene in January.

By March 24, the Philippines has received one million doses of the Sinovac vaccine from China.

The country began reporting record-high daily cases for several days, with a new all-time high of over 15,000 cases in just one day. An extension was made to curb the further spread of the virus.

More and more COVID-19 patients choked healthcare systems, with frontliners saying the situation now was worse than 2020's worst back in August.

Flexible MECQ 2021 (April 12 - May 14, 2021)

Though called MECQ, guidelines were less strict so as not to worsen the country's economic situtation.

Continue reading below ↓

The Philippine economy contracted at a slower pace of -4.2% in the first quarter of 2021.

GCQ with heightened restrictions (May 15 - 31, 2021)

Starting Saturday, Metro Manila will shift to GCQ with heightened restrictions. Only essential travel is allowed in and out of the bubble. However, some businesses can increase their operating capacities. Here's what we know about.

GCQ with some restrictions (June 1 - July 31, 2021)

Some of the "heightened" restrictions were eased in June as more vaccines arrived.

GCQ with heightened restrictions (Aug. 1 - 5, 2021)

ECQ (Aug 6. to 20, 2021)

Many areas eased into the highest lockdown or ECQ at the start of August to thwart the spread of the Delta variant. Here's how it was implemented.

Heightened MECQ (Aug. 21 - 31, 2021)

After 15 days, the lockdown in Metro Manila was dialed down one notch to heightened MECQ, save for a ban on all forms of indoor dining. Salons and spas also stayed shut.

Continue reading below ↓

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