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Metro Manila Mayors Allow Travel For Minors, Outdoor Exercises For All Ages

Metro Manila Mayors Allow Travel For Minors, Outdoor Exercises For All Ages
People bring their children as they flock to the dolomite beach in Manila’s Baywalk along Roxas Boulevard on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, as quarantine restrictions were eased further in the National Capital Region under Alert Level 3. Photo by Edd Gumban, The Philippine STAR

The mayors of Metro Manila have approved a resolution allowing minors to travel as long as they are accompanied by a parent or an adult guardian at all times.

On Tuesday, Oct. 19, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos said the Metro Manila Council unanimously approved Resolution No. 21-24, which states that “intrazonal and interzonal travel shall be allowed subject to reasonable restrictions based on age and comorbidities, as may be determined by the LGUs (local government units), which should no be stricter as those prescribed under Alert Level 4 and subject to the oversight, monitoring, and evaluation of their respective RIATF (Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases).

The resolution also said that those below 18 and those belonging to the vulnerable population, “shall be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices in accordance with existing labor laws, rules and regulations.”

“Individual outdoor exercises shall also be allowed for all ages, regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status.”

The measure took effect on Tuesday.

“This is done to protect our children. It would be hard if minors would go on loitering by themselves,” Abalos, in a press briefing, said.

“We are slowly calibrating [the protocols] because the worst that could happen here is if we make a mistake…and the cases surge once again. If that happens, our Christmas would be bad,” Abalos noted.

He underscored the importance of following minimum health protocols to prevent any surge.

Meanwhile, Abalos also said they are urging malls in Metro Manila to defer sales to weekends and holidays, instead of weekdays, starting mid-November.

This is to prevent heavy traffic, especially with the holiday season approaching.

“From November to about January, we are asking mall owners to defer their sales to the weekends and holidays,” he said.

The chairman added that they would be pushing for deliveries of malls to be done during nighttime to also prevent heavy traffic.

The implementation of adjusted mall hours was also mulled.

“This, so the people would not go to the malls at the same time,” he said.

The implementation of number coding and truck ban are also still suspended.

Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3 from Oct. 16 to 31.

On Tuesday, the IATF 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 from Oct. 20 to 31 while 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.

Under all alert levels, intrazonal and interzonal travel shall be allowed subject to reasonable restrictions based on age and comorbidities, as may be determined by the LGUs, which should not be stricter as those prescribed under Alert Level 4 and subject to the oversight, monitoring, and evaluation of their respective RIATF. Provided, that those below 18, and those belonging to the vulnerable population, shall be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices in accordance with existing labor laws, rules, and regulations.

These are the other guidelines approved by the IATF as of Oct. 13 under Alert Levels 1 to 5 with granular lockdowns:

Alert Level 5 shall observe the guidelines applicable to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as provided for under the IATF Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, as amended. The benefits applicable to ECQ shall be applicable in Alert Level 5.

The authority to impose granular lockdown shall be given to the city and municipal mayors with respect to their component barangays subject to the concurrence of RIATF, and individual houses where one household member has been confirmed, residential buildings, streets, blocks, purok or zones, subdivisions, and/or villages within their jurisdiction.

Granular lockdowns shall be imposed for a period of not less than 14 days.

Alert Level 4

  • Those below 18 and and those belonging to the vulnerable population, shall be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices in accordance with existing labor laws, rules, and regulations.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals belonging to the vulnerable population and those below 18 shall be allowed to participate in specialized markets of the Department of Tourism such as point-to-point travel subject to the reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination, and staycations. Individual outdoor exercises even beyond the general area of their respective residences are also permitted, provided that, the minimum public health standards and precautions such as the wearing of face masks and the maintenance of social distancing protocols are observed.
  • The following establishments and/or activities characterized as high-risk for transmission shall not be allowed to operate:
  1. Face to face or in-person classes for basic education, except those approved by the IATF and/or the Office of the President
  2. Face-to-face or in-person classes for higher education or for technical, vocational education and training, except those approved by the IATF and/or the Office of the President
  3. All contact sports, whether indoor or outdoor
  4. Cinemas and movie houses
  5. Funfairs/peryas and kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides
  6. Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as in karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters
  7. Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments except as may be authorized by the IATF or the Office of the President
  8. Gatherings in residences with individuals not belonging to the same household
  • The following establishments, or activities, shall be allowed to operate, or be undertaken at a maximum of 10% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 30% outdoor venue capacity provided that they have been issued a Safety Seal Certification. Provided further, that all workers/employees of these establishments are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and minimum public health standards shall be strictly maintained. Provided further still, that there is no objection from the LGU where these activities may take place:
  1. Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE)
  2. Permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers
  3. Visitor or tourist attractions such as libraries, archives, museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, plazas, public gardens, scenic viewpoints or overlooks, and the like
  4. Amusement parks and theme parks
  5. Recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, skating rinks, archery halls, swimming pools, and similar venues
  • The following establishments, or activities, shall be allowed to operate, or be undertaken at a maximum of 10% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 30% outdoor venue capacity. Provided, that all workers/employees of these establishments are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and minimum public health standards shall be strictly maintained. Provided further, that there is no objection from the LGU where these activities may take place:
  1. In-person religious gatherings. Provided that gatherings shall be limited to the conduct of religious worship and/or service, and processions and other similar mobile religious gatherings shall not be allowed. Provided further, that pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, or other religious ministers and the assistants of these religious congregations have been fully vaccinated
  2. Licensure or entrance/qualifying examinations administered by their respective government agency, and specialty examinations authorized by the IATF subject to the health and safety guidelines as approved by the IATF
  3. Dine-in services in food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries, subject to the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) sector-specific protocols
  4. Personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those offering aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures, make-up services, salons, spas, reflexology, and other similar procedures including home service options, subject to the sector-specific protocols of the DTI
  5. Fitness studios, gyms, and venues for non-contact exercise and sports, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols. Provided that patrons/clients and workers/employees wear face masks at all times and that no group activities are conducted
  6. Film, music, and television production, subject to the joint guidelines as may be issued by the DTI, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Department of Health (DOH).
  • Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19, and for the cremains of the COVID-19 deceased, shall be allowed, provided that the same shall be limited to immediate family members, upon satisfactory proof of their relationship with the deceased and with full compliance with the prescribed minimum public health standards.
  • Agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall remain to be fully operational and shall adhere to at least 20% on-site capacity while applying work-from-home and other flexible work arrangements.

Alert Level 3

  • Individual outdoor exercises shall be allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status.
  • The following establishments and/or activities characterized as high-risk for transmission shall not be allowed to operate:
  1. Face to face or in-person classes for basic education, except those previously approved by the IATF and/or the Office of the President
  2. Contact sports, except those conducted under a bubble-type setup as provided for under relevant guidelines adopted by the IATF, Games and Amusement Board, and Philippine Sports Commission, and approved by the LGU where such games shall be held
  3. Funfairs/peryas and kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides
  4. Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as in karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters
  5. Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments except as may be authorized by the IATF or the Office of the President; and
  6. Gatherings in residences with individuals not belonging to the same household
  • The following establishments, or activities, shall be allowed to operate or be undertaken at a maximum of 30% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 50% outdoor venue capacity. Provided, that all workers/employees of these establishments are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and minimum public health standards shall be strictly maintained. Provided further, that there is no objection from the LGU where these activities may take place.
  1. Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE)
  2. Permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers
  3. Visitor or tourist attractions such as libraries, archives, museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, plazas, public gardens, scenic viewpoints or overlooks, and the like
  4. Amusement parks or theme parks
  5. Recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, skating rinks, archery halls, swimming pools, and similar venues
  6. Cinemas and movie houses
  7. Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for higher education and for technical-vocational education and training
  8. In-person religious gatherings; gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of the COVID-19 deceased
  9. Licensure or entrance/qualifying examinations administered by their respective government agency, and specialty examinations authorized by the IATF subject to the health and safety guidelines as approved by the IATF
  10. Dine-in services in food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols
  11. Personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those offering aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures, make-up services, salons, spas, reflexology, and other similar procedures including home service options, subject to the sector-specific protocols of the DTI
  1. Fitness studios, gyms, and venues for non-contact exercise and sports, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols. Provided that patrons/clients and workers/employees wear face masks at all times and that no group activities are conducted; and
  2. Film, music, and television production, subject to the joint guidelines as may be issued by the DTI, Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Health
  • Agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall remain to be fully operational and shall adhere to at least 30% on-site capacity while applying work-from-home and other flexible work arrangements

Alert Level 2

  • Individual outdoor exercises shall also be allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status.
  • Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments shall not be allowed to operate, or be undertaken in areas classified under Alert Level 2 except as may be authorized by the IATF or the Office of the President.
  • The following establishments, or activities, shall be allowed to operate, or be undertaken at a maximum of 50% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and those below 18 years of age, even if unvaccinated, and 70% outdoor venue capacity. Provided, that all workers/employees of these establishments are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and MPHS shall be strictly maintained. Provided further, that there is no objection from the LGU where these activities may take place:
  1. Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE)
  2. Permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers
  3. Visitor or tourist attractions such as libraries, archives, museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, plazas, public gardens, scenic viewpoints or overlooks, and the like
  4. Amusement parks or theme parks
  5. Recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, skating rinks, archery halls, swimming pools, and similar venues
  6. Cinemas and movie houses
  7. Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for basic education subject to prior approval of the Office of the President
  8. Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for higher education and for technical-vocational education and training
  9. In-person religious gatherings; gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of the COVID-19 deceased
  10. Licensure or entrance/qualifying examinations administered by their respective government agency, and specialty examinations authorized by the IATF subject to the health and safety guidelines as approved by the IATF
  11. Dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols
  12. Personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those offering aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures, make-up services, salons, spas, reflexology, and other similar procedures including home service options, subject to the sector-specific protocols of the DTI
  13. Fitness studios, gyms, and venues for individual non-contact exercise and sports, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols. Provided that patrons/clients and workers/employees wear face masks at all times and that no group activities are conducted
  14. Film, music, and television production subject to the joint guidelines as may be issued by the DTI, DOLE, and the DOH
  15. Contact sports approved by the LGU where such games shall be held
  16. Funfairs/peryas or kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides
  17. Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as in karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters
  18. Gatherings in residences with individuals not belonging to the same household
  • Agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall remain to be fully operational and shall adhere to at least 50% on-site capacity while applying work-from-home and other flexible work arrangements.

Alert Level 1

  • Intrazonal and interzonal travel shall be allowed without regard to age and comorbidities.
  • All establishments, persons, or activities, are allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at full on-site or venue/seating capacity provided it is consistent with minimum public health standards; provided further, that face to face classes for basic education shall be subject to prior approval of the Office of the President.

Face-to-face classes

Meanwhile, with less than a month to go before the resumption of limited face-to-face classes, the Department of Education (DepEd) said the number of participating schools in the pilot study has gone down to 30.

Data from DepEd showed that only 30 schools in six regions would push through with the pilot implementation, about half of the 59 schools earlier identified and approved by the DOH.

The schools are located in Aklan, Antique, Cebu, Lanao del Norte, Masbate, North Cotabato, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay.

DepEd Assistant Secretary Malcom Garma said these schools have confirmed to resume face-to-face classes by Nov. 15, the first day of the pilot study.

Twenty-nine other schools were earlier identified but decided not to join the pilot study due to problems in concurring with LGUs and the learners’ parents as well as the spikes in COVID cases in their areas.

Garma said DepEd is working to complete the 100 public schools approved by the DOH to resume face-to-face classes before the date of the resumption next month.

Seventy more public schools are being revalidated and may make the list for the pilot study before the deadline.

At least 46 schools in participating regions are appealing to join the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes, subject to validation. Garma said the pilot implementation would continue on Nov. 15 even if the department would not meet the 100 schools approved by the DOH.

The pilot implementation will run for two months to determine if face-to-face classes may be expanded to other geographical areas and grade levels amid the pandemic.

“We don’t need to complete the 100. Whoever passes based on the listing will continue because we cannot force the 100 schools if there is no concurrence,” he said.

“By Nov. 15, there is a possibility that we can reach 100 or less. But with the 100 as a pilot, we will venture to expand the program based on the study,” Garma added.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the proposal to compress the pilot study to two months might be too short, especially when there are lots of preparations for face-o-face classes.

“Perhaps one month would be too short because one month would include the preparations. We don’t start classes by just opening doors and let the kids come in. There are preparations to be made. After the prescribed period, we have to also conduct the assessment, perhaps one month would be too short,” Briones said at a virtual briefing.

Briones noted that DepEd needs to see data and information to properly determine the next move to take in terms of face-to-face classes, especially since the virus is unpredictable.

Still, the DepEd said it has set aside funds to augment additional needs of schools that will participate in the pilot.

It is also developing a computation on a per capita cost for equitable distribution for participating schools.

Not a cause of concern

The minimal number COVID infections reported among students participating in limited face-to-face classes in the tertiary level is not yet a cause of concern, Malacañang said.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said there is no need to be concerned because in-person classes would not be conducted in areas with high COVID cases.

“Our COVID-19 vaccination coverage rate is increasing not just in Metro Manila but in the entire Philippines,” Roque said.

As of Tuesday, the number of fully vaccinated Filipinos was at 31 million, he said.

The Commission on Higher Education has expanded limited face-to-face classes to include hotel and restaurant management, engineering, tourism and maritime courses.

Students taking medical and allied health courses were allowed to conduct limited in-person classes last January.

Ramp up vaccination

The government needs to ramp up the vaccination program as quarantine restrictions have been eased and face-to-face classes are allowed to resume in select areas, Sen. Grace Poe said on Tuesday.

“An expansive vaccination program will not only save lives, but also help pave the way for the reduction of lockdown measures, thereby boosting jobs and growth,” Poe, chair of the committee on public services, said. “The thrust now is to go full throttle in the campaign for our people to get the shot that is free and widely accessible.”

Poe said the people expect concerned agencies and LGUs to heighten efforts to help vaccinate those who are under-reached and under-served communities.

“Our people must feel the seamless care of our health system wherever they may want to seek the vaccine to protect themselves,” she said. – With Romina Cabrera, Helen Flores, Paolo Romero