NCR To Be Placed Under Alert Level 4 Starting Sept. 16: Here Are The Dos And Don’ts
Under Alert Level 4, restrictions will be imposed on closed and crowded spaces and on activities that promote close contact. However, some activities will be allowed for those who have been fully vaccinated.
Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) will be placed under Alert Level 4 during the pilot implementation of the government's new quarantine system, a status that will allow some industries to resume operations amid a rising number of COVID-19 infections.
NCR, the country's economic center, will be under the alert level starting Sept. 16, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque. The classification of alert levels will be done weekly.
Under the alert status, restrictions will be imposed on closed and crowded spaces and on activities that promote close contact. However, some activities will be allowed for those who have been fully vaccinated.
"We will be on alert level number four during its pilot implementation in Metro manila. This is good news," Roque said at a press briefing on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
"Workers and employees of restaurants and eateries in Metro Manila can go back to work starting Thursday, Sept. 16...Workers of personal care services will also return to work," he added.
Here are the dos and don’ts based on the guidelines released by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Monday night, Sept. 13:
Under Alert Level 4, food establishments are allowed up to 30% of their seating capacity for outdoor or al fresco dine-in, regardless of vaccination status. For indoor dine-in services, only fully vaccinated customers can be served and restaurants or eateries can fill in up to 10% of their venues.
The same capacity limits and vaccination status distinction will apply to outdoor and indoor services offered by personal care establishments namely barber shops, hair spas, nail spas and beauty salons. Workers of food establishments and personal care services should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and should follow minimum public health standards (MPHS).
For in-person religious gatherings, up to 30% of the venue may be occupied for outdoor events, regardless of vaccination status. Up to 10% of the venue capacity is allowed for indoor religious gatherings but only fully vaccinated persons can participate. Pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, or other religious ministers and their assistants should be fully inoculated for COVID-19. MPHS should be strictly maintained during religious events.
• Persons below 18 years old and those who are over 65 of age are not allowed outside of their respective residences as well as those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities, or other health risks, and pregnant women; provided, that they shall be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices.
• Intrazonal and interzonal travel for persons not otherwise required to remain at their residences in the preceding paragraph may be allowed subject to the reasonable regulations of the local government unit of destination.
• Individual outdoor exercises are allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status but it will be limited within the general area of their residence or within the barangay, purok, subdivision, and/or village. Provided, that MPHS 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 are NOT allowed to operate:
a. Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and cultural shows and exhibits;
b. Indoor venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, events (MICE);
c. Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, and venues with live performers such as karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters;
d. Outdoor and indoor amusement parks or theme parks, funfairs or perya, kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides;
e. Indoor recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues;
f. Indoor limited face to face or in-person classes, examinations, and other education-related activities at all levels, except those previously approved by the IATF and/or of the Office of the President;
g. 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;
h. Social events such as but not limited to concerts and parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers, parades, processions, motorcades, and gatherings at residences with any person outside of one's immediate household;
i. Indoor sports courts or venues, fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centers or facilities, and swimming pools;
j. All contact sports, except those conducted under a bubble-type setup as provided for under relevant guidelines adopted by the IATF, and approved by the LGU where such games shall be held;
k. Personal care services, which include medical aesthetic clinics, cosmetic or derma clinics, make-up salons, reflexology, aesthetics, wellness, and holistic centers, and other similar establishments; acupuncture and electrocautery establishments, and massage therapy including sports therapy establishments. It also includes establishments providing tanning services, body piercings, tattooing, and similar services. Home service for these activities are likewise not permitted; and
l. Specialized markets of the Department of Tourism such as staycations.
• Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 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 MPHS.
• Except those located in areas covered by granular lockdowns, all other establishments, or activities not otherwise specified may be allowed to operate or be undertaken at 100% on-site or venue/seating capacity, provided they implement the MPHS. However, they are encouraged to operate with a minimal on-site capacity necessary to implement full operations, while applying work-from-home and other flexible work arrangements. For this purpose, the movement of workers of the establishments residing in areas not covered by granular lockdowns shall remain unrestricted.
• 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.
Other alert levels
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said there would be no distinctions in terms of vaccination in Alert Levels 1 to 3, a set-up that would permit more businesses to open.
Food establishments will be allowed to operate in full capacity for take-out and delivery services under Alert Levels 2 to 3. Dine-in services will be allowed at 30% capacity under Alert Level 3 and at 50% capacity under Alert Level 2. All services of food establishments can operate in full capacity for areas that are under the most lenient alert level one but health protocols should still be observed.
During the pilot implementation of the alert level system, only establishments that provide basic personal care services will be allowed to operate, namely barber shops, beauty salons, hair spas, and nail spas. Personal care service establishments can fill in up to 30% of their capacity under Alert Level 3, 50% under Alert Level 2, and 100% under Alert Level 1.
In general, the maximum allowed operational capacities for closed and crowded venues and close contact activities are 100% for Alert Level 1, 50% for Alert Level 2 and 30% for Alert Level 3. However, the permitted capacities for establishments with safety seals may increase by 10%.
Officials have said the new alert level system would allow local governments to enforce measures that are in line with their own risk assessments. The pilot implementation in Metro Manila aims to determine if localized lockdowns can be equally effective with wide scale community quarantine in containing the pandemic.
Under the new system, the Department of Health (DOH) will identify the alert level of the pilot area. This area will then follow the protocols consistent with the declared status.
Close contacts of probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases regardless of vaccination status and despite the possession of a negative COVID-19 test result, will undergo 14-day quarantine in accordance with the protocols set by the DOH.
"We know that even if you are vaccinated, it is not a guarantee that you won't catch what we call the breakthrough infections," Roque said.
Local governments in pilot areas are required to submit pandemic-related data to their respective regional pandemic task forces.
The government will also impose granular or localized lockdowns in specific areas while enforcing the alert level system. Granular lockdowns - defined as "micro-level quarantine for areas identified as critical zones by local governments regardless of alert level" - will last for not less than 14 days.
Persons who are allowed to move within, into, and out of the area under granular lockdown include health care workers and non-health personnel working in hospitals, laboratories, and dialysis facilities; and uniformed personnel tasked to enforce mobility restrictions.
Also allowed to enter or leave granular lockdown areas are overseas Filipino workers bound for international travel, and those returning to their respective residences after having completed facility-based quarantine upon arrival; returning residents provided they should remain in the area for the duration of the lockdown; individuals under exceptional circumstances like those seeking urgent medical attention as validated by a local health officer; and food and essential items to be delivered to an affected area provided that they can only be unloaded at border collection points designated by local authorities.
Roque said the national and local governments would deliver food to residents affected by the localized lockdowns.
"The DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development also has a regular program, the assistance to individuals in crisis situations. So, they can also receive assistance from the DSWD like transportation expenses or medical expenses," he added.