(UPDATED) President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the de-escalation of quarantine measures in the National Capital Region (NCR), Laguna and Bataan.

The NCR, or Metro Manila, and Laguna will shift to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) on August 21 to 31, 2021.

Bataan will shift to MECQ on August 23 to 31, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. announced Thursday evening, August 19.

NCR and Laguna are under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most stringent form of quarantine, until August 20 while Bataan is under ECQ until August 22.

Roque said these latest classifications are without prejudice to the strict implementation of granular lockdowns in areas where it is necessary to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Indoor and al-fresco dine-in services, and personal care services including beauty salons, beauty parlors, barbershops and nail spas shall not be allowed in the NCR, Laguna and Bataan, Roque said.

Religious gatherings should remain virtual in the NCR, Bataan and Laguna.

Roque reminded local government units in the said areas to improve their vaccination rates, prevent-detect-isolate-treat-reintegrate (PDITR) strategies, and compliance to minimum public health standards.

Bataan has a total of 1,760 active Covid-19 cases, NCR has 32,039 and Laguna, 6,620.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos said the unified curfew of 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. across the NCR will remain in effect until further notice. Authorized persons outside residence are exempted from the curfew.

He said outdoor exercises in the region will be allowed starting August 21, but only from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily.

Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the constitution of a sub-technical working group to design, deploy, support and recommend relevant policies related to the national certificate for Covid-19 vaccinations, otherwise known as “VaxCertPH.”

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) shall lead this sub-technical working group.

Members include the Department of Health, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor and Employment, the National Privacy Commission and other agencies which may be included by the DICT. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)