Even with the strictest quarantine restrictions, food deliveries are allowed to happen around the clock in Manila. This clarification was made after a video that has since gone viral raised questions about the directive.
In the video, an unknown woman is seen quarreling with a delivery driver. She told the man that the "lugaw", or rice porridge he was supposed to deliver, was non-essential.
While reprimanding the driver, she also made reference to night curfews. In the local dialect, she claimed that people could live without rice porridge.
There has been a surge in COVID-19 infections in certain areas in the Philippines. As a result, there have been enhanced community quarantines (ECQ) in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Luguna, and Rizal, which have all put a ban on non-essential movement to ensure the surge in infections comes to a stop.
However, "food preparation establishments" can operate at full onsite capacity according to the inter-agency task force leading the Philippines' pandemic response.
That means restaurants, eateries, take-out and delivery establishments can keep operating during the quarantine.
Harry Roque, the Palace spokesman, clarified by saying that food deliveries can operate 24/7.
When he was later asked if he was referring to the hours the food deliveries could operate, he confirmed by saying yes.
In a statement, his office added that:
"Lugaw, or any food item for that matter, is considered an essential good. Delivery of food items must remain unhampered 24/7."
The office also requested that those providing these essential services should not be barred at checkpoints.
Earlier, the interior department had requested homeowner groups to allow food deliveries to get into subdivisions. This, they argued, would allow the people to stay home, which would lower the risk of getting exposed to COVID-19 as they looked for food.
"We highly encourage our different homeowner's association, do not impede the movement of food delivery in your subdivision."
This was according to the Interior Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.
In the viral video, the driver seems to be working for Grab, a popular delivery platform. The rider mentioned the company in the video clip.
Through its social media account, Grab requested the public to show appreciation to the riders because they were carrying essential goods and because they were "always following rules and guidelines whenever, wherever." The company also provided a promo code for free delivery.
Metro Manila and the surrounding four provinces were put under ECQ until early April. ECQ is the strictest of lockdowns, and in addition to banning mass gatherings, it only allows a few chosen industries to run at full capacity.
It is up to the president to decide if ECQ should continue or end.
Here's a video explaining that food delivery services are supposed to operate without restrictions during the ECQ.
In the video, the undersecretary asked homeowner groups to allow food deliveries to enter subdivisions during the enhanced quarantine in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.