Expect heavier traffic in light of the looming Christmas rush.
As COVID-19 cases continue to go down, Metro Manila chief executives have agreed to do away with the curfew hours in the National Capital Region starting Thursday, November 4, for the first time since the pandemic forced the country into a lockdown 19 months ago.
Under Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Resolution No. 21-25 signed by all 17 Metro Manila mayors, the previously enforced curfew hours of 10 PM to 4 AM is now lifted. The resolution complements the call of mall chains to adjust their operating hours to 11 AM to 11 PM, as a means to prepare for the rush of holiday shoppers.
Meanwhile, shopping sales inside malls will only be permitted during weekends and holidays to avoid congestion on major roads during weekdays.
According to MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos, the adjusted mall hours are meant to curb traffic brought about by the simultaneous transit of people coming to and from work and those going to malls.
“The lifting of curfew hours in Metro Manila will help spread out influx of people coming to and from malls to further reduce the risk of virus’ transmission,” said Abalos in a press statement.
Curfew hours were implemented by the inter-agency task force at the onset of the pandemic to prevent a spike in COVID-19 cases. However, experts have long before questioned the efficacy of curfews, which are usually imposed in cases of natural disasters or civil unrest, in controlling the spread of the virus.
At one point last March, at the height of the country’s second wave of COVID-19 cases, citizens were subject to a lengthy 11-hour curfew from 6 PM to 5 AM.
Currently, the country’s daily COVID-19 caseload continues to drop, with Wednesday’s tally posting only 1,591 new cases. This is the Philippines’ lowest since February 2021, or before it grappled with the surge of Delta cases.
Abalos reminded the public, however, that while the added freedom is meant to mend the economy, the implementation of restrictions will still be subject to their respective city’s ordinances, which may set curfew rules on minors or senior citizens.
“Ambag na rin natin ito sa ekonomiya ng ating bansa, kasi may semblance of normalcy. Ang taas na ng bakuna natin,” Abalos said during a TV interview.