Alert Level System Expanded Outside Metro Manila Starting Oct. 20
The government said the decision to expand the implementation of the alert level system was partly due to lower number of cases recorded and decreased healthcare utilization in Metro Manila, the epicenter of COVID-19.
The government task force against COVID-19 will implement the alert level system with granular lockdowns in areas outside Metro Manila beginning Wednesday, Oct. 20, until the end of the month, Malacañang announced on Tuesday, Aug. 19.
“Starting Oct. 20, we will expand the alert level system outside Metro Manila,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing.
Roque said Negros Oriental and Davao Occidental will be under Alert Level 4, while Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Siquijor, Davao City at Davao del Norte will be under Alert Level 3.
Under Alert Level 2 are Batangas, Quezon Province, Lucena City, Bohol, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Cebu Province, Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental.
Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3.
Roque said the expanded implementation is still part of the pilot study of the COVID-19 alert level system.
He added that the decision to expand its implementation was partly due to lower number of cases recorded and decreased healthcare utilization in Metro Manila, the epicenter of COVID-19.
“If studies show that the alert level system is more effective, we will implement it on a nationwide basis,” the Palace spokesman said.
OCTA Research group said the COVID-19 reproduction rate in Metro Manila has dropped to 0.55, the lowest since May.
Roque said indoor dine-in will be limited to fully vaccinated individuals at 10% capacity in areas under Alert Level 4; 30% under Alert Level 3; 50% under Alert Level 2; and 100% under Alert Level 1.
For outdoor or al fresco dining; 30% in areas under Alert Level 4; 50% under Alert Level 3; and 70% under Alert Level 2.
Take-out or delivery is allowed at 100 % regardless of alert level.
For gyms, fitness studios and venues for non-contact sports, indoor operations are allowed at 10% of capacity in areas under Alert Level 4; 30% under Alert Level 3; and 50% under Alert Level 2, provided that workers are vaccinated and patrons wear face masks and observe social distancing. Group indoor activities are prohibited, Roque said.
For their operations outdoors, the allowed capacity is 30% under Alert Level 4; 50% under Alert Level 3; and 70% under Alert Level 2.
The government task force allowed 10% indoor capacity for personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, nail spas and those offering aesthetic cosmetic services under Alert Level 4, provided workers and customers are vaccinated; 30% under Alert Level 3 and 50% under Alert Level 2.
For their outdoor services, 30% capacity is allowed under Alert Level 4; 50% under Alert Level 3; and 70% under Alert Level 2.
Local tourist attractions such as libraries, archives, museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, indoor activities are allowed at 10% under Alert Level 4; 30% under Alert Level 3; and 50% under Alert Level 2, provided they have safety certificates and visitors are fully vaccinated. For outdoor activities, the allowed capacity is 30% under Alert Level 4; 50% under Alert Level 3; and 70% under Alert Level 2.
Cinemas are not allowed to operate whether indoor or outdoor under Alert Level 4. However, it is allowed under Alert Level 3 at 30% indoor capacity and 50% under Alert Level 2. For outdoor, the allowed capacity in areas under Alert Level 3 is 50% and 70% under Alert Level 2.
Meanwhile, the Department of Finance (DOF) has directed its attached agencies to craft back-to-office plans.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III yesterday said he has ordered the DOF and agencies under it to start planning the return to their respective workplaces now that quarantine restrictions are getting eased.
Under the framework, Dominguez said the DOF and its bureaus should include testing protocols for the staff and their immediate families.
“I think that we should already have a plan for transitioning back into working normally. In other words, back-to-office work,” Dominguez said.
“I’d like everybody to start working on this plan already, assuming that we’re going to have to live with this virus,” he added.
Based on records, the DOF achieved herd immunity by Oct. 8, after it got 77% of its personnel vaccinated, or beyond the nationwide target of 70%.
In spite of the downgrade to Alert Level 3, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has yet to permit a full resumption of work in Metro Manila.
The government eyes to vaccinate at least 70% of the population before the year ends to achieve herd immunity and avoid reversion to lockdown.
However, just 21.89% of Filipinos have received their full doses as of Oct. 17, according to Our World in Data.
The Philippines has so far acquired a total of 91.57 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. It expects to get nearly 104 million shots for the remainder of the year. – With Elijah Felice Rosales