MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president is relaxing a lockdown in the capital, the country’s epicenter of coronavirus infections, in a tightrope move amid an economic downturn and massive government spending to help feed millions of poor families restricted to their homes.
President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday night that metropolitan Manila will be placed under a more relaxed quarantine Monday after more than two months of police- and military-enforced lockdown that restrained public mobility and most economic activities. The economy contracted in the first quarter in its weakest run in two decades.
Under the new arrangement, more work and business operations, along with public transport, will be allowed to resume, but physical distancing, face masks and other safeguards will continue to be required. Classes will remain suspended.
Duterte made the televised announcement hours after the Department of Health reported a single-day spike of 539 infections, more than 60% of them in the congested capital. That brought the total number of infections to 15,588, including 921 deaths.
Duterte warned the danger is far from over.
“Remember that the entire nation is still under quarantine,” Duterte said. “The state has every right to control your movement if you pass on a contagion to the population.”