This is a briefing on the issuances of the Philippine government as of May 13, 2020 about the imposition of a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) over Metro Manila and other high-risk areas in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. [1]

During MECQ, more businesses are allowed to operate with 50% of their employees on-site, but since public transportation is still restricted, “frontline workers or those who will return to work in allowed industries under the MECQ will have to take the public shuttle for frontline workers, or companies will have to provide shuttle service." [2] The list of businesses allowed to operate during MECQ is in Part D below.

Government offices will still operate with a skeleton workforce, same as during enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Each agency may adopt its own alternative work arrangements based on those set out in Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 10, series of 2020 (Revised Interim Guidelines for Alternative Work Arrangements and Support Mechanisms for Workers in the Government During the Period of State of National Emergency Due to COVID-19 Pandemic) dated May 7, 2020. [3]

A. Areas under MECQ

Inter-Agency Task Force of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) Resolution No. 35 dated May 11, 2020 [4] places high-risk local government units (LGUs) (i.e., entire Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cebu City) under MECQ from May 16 until May 31, 2020 “without prejudice to the declaration of localized Enhanced Community Quarantine in critical areas.”

Moderate-risk LGUs “shall be placed under General Community Quarantine (GCQ)” and low-risk LGUs “shall no longer be under community quarantine.” For a full list of LGUs covered by ECQ, MECQ and GCQ, please see

Please note that it has been reported that the Philippine government will amend IATF Resolution No. 35 to indicate that “areas with low risk of coronavirus infection will be placed under “modified general community quarantine” (MGCQ) instead of being totally removed from the lockdown rule starting May 16, 2020." [5]

Part C below contains a comparison of MECQ to ECQ and to GCQ.

B. MECQ Guidelines

On May 13, 2020, during a press briefing, the Presidential Spokesperson presented guidelines for allowable activities and the list of businesses and industries that may operate in areas placed under ECQ, MECQ, and GCQ. A copy of the guidelines has yet to be posted by the IATF. However, the guidelines have been reported in the press, and one of the news reports can be accessed at

The IATF requires strict compliance with minimum safety standards and protocols (e.g., wearing of face masks, frequent sanitation and handwashing, and implementation of safe distancing measures) in all areas of the country regardless of the kind of community quarantine imposed.

Aside from providing means of transportation to their employees, private companies that are allowed to operate also have to conduct “antibody testing and confirmatory [polymerase chain reaction].” These are part of return-to-work protocols under the MECQ guidelines.

C. Comparison of MECQ, ECQ, GCQ

The table below sets out some of the differences between ECQ, MECQ, and GCQ. It is based on news reports ( and*) on the IATF’s transition guidelines that were presented by the Presidential Spokesperson during the May 13, 2020 press briefing.

  * Edited as of 8 AM, May 14. The information in this Part B was also from the news report posted at, the link to this report was not added in the earlier version we circulated. We apologise for the oversight. ** This table is a partial reproduction a slide in the presentation of the Presidential Spokesperson as posted on *** The slide uses "skeletal workforce onsite."

D. Businesses Allowed to Operate During MECQ   The table below sets out some of the businesses and industries that are not allowed to operate during ECQ but can operate once MECQ begins on May 16. It is based on a news report ( on the IATF’s transition guidelines that were presented by the Presidential Spokesperson during the May 13, 2020 press briefing.   Please note that the businesses and industries listed below are “[p]artially allowed to operate during MECQ” in that no more than 50% of their employees can work on-site, and at least 50% have to work from home.

Category I businesses and industries (essential services such as hospitals, public utilities, logistics services) can operate under any quarantine system (ECQ, MECQ, GCQ) imposed.  

BPOs (Category II) which can operate during ECQ provided that they comply with certain requirements (e.g., their employees working on site are given accommodations and private shuttle services while the rest work from home) will continue to be subject to these requirements during MECQ and GCQ.  

Category IV businesses and industries (such as travel agencies, sports facilities, cinemas) are not allowed to operate under any quarantine system imposed. 

“Cement and steel,” a Category II business, is allowed to “partially operate” during ECQ but during MECQ, it is “allowed [to operate] with safety protocols.”   

The businesses which are allowed to operate during ECQ with no more than 50% of workers on site and which are still subject to this limitation during MECQ include real estate services, funeral services, veterinary clinics, security and investigation activities.  

“Dining/Restaurants (take-out and delivery only)” can only “partially operate” under any quarantine system.  

Please note that the government is expected to issue more MECQ guidelines or clarifications. This is a developing matter.