Metro Manila under ‘Alert Level 4’ starting Sept. 16

FAIR WARNING. A police officer issues a violation ticket to a passenger and a taxi driver who failed to observe basic health protocol while traversing along Kamuning Road, Quezon City on Thursday, Sept. 9. Most of those apprehended were not properly wearing their face shields. | PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler

THE National Capital Region (NCR) will be placed under Alert Level 4 from September 16 to 30 as part of the national government’s new lockdown scheme aimed at curbing rising COVID-19 infections.

Philippine Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday, September 14, made the announcement, adding that Metro Manila mayors agreed to place NCR under one Alert Level.

“Ang gumawa ng kasunduan, iyong mga National Capital Region mayors, na isang alert level lang (The NCR mayors agreed that there will be one alert level),” he said in an interview with GMA’s “Unang Hirit.”

“Alert Level 4 lang ang gagawin nila at magtutulong-tulong sila para mapababa yung numero. At ang objective ay mapababa sa Alert Level 3 (They will implement Alert Level 4, and they will help each other to bring down the numbers. And the objective is to bring it down to Alert Level 3),” he added.

Alert Level 4 means that “case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at high utilization.”

Under this level, individuals below 18 years old and above 65 years old, those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities, or other health risks, and pregnant women are prohibited from leaving their homes except for obtaining essential goods and services and working in permitted industries and offices.

Outdoor or alfresco dine-in services in restaurants and eateries are allowed to operate at 30% capacity regardless of customers’ vaccination status, while indoor dining services are limited to 10% capacity and would only cater to fully-vaccinated individuals.

Personal care services limited to barbershops, hair spas, nail spas, and beauty salons are allowed to operate at 30% capacity if their services are conducted outdoors, while indoor services are at 10% capacity, but only for the fully-vaccinated.

Outdoor religious services are also allowed at 30% capacity, but seating capacity is limited to 10% in indoor venues where only fully-vaccinated people may participate.

Necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 will be limited to immediate family members, with full compliance with the minimum health protocols.

Meanwhile, the following establishments and activities are prohibited in areas placed under Alert Level 4:

  • Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and cultural shows and exhibits;
  • Indoor venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, events;
  • Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, and venues with live performers such as karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters;
  • Outdoor and indoor amusement parks or theme parks, funfairs, kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides;
  • Indoor recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues;
  • Indoor limited face to face or in-person classes, examinations, and other education-related activities at all levels, except those previously approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and/or of the Office of the President;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Indoor sports courts or venues, fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centers or facilities, and swimming pools;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Specialized markets of the Department of Tourism such as Staycations.

All other establishments not specified are allowed to operate at 100% onsite capacity.

Other levels

On Monday, Sept. 13, the IATF ratified the guidelines on the pilot implementation of granular lockdowns and alert levels system in Metro Manila.

Under the new guidelines, city and municipal mayors are authorized to impose lockdowns on individual houses where one household member has been confirmed, residential buildings, streets, blocks, puroks, subdivisions, and/or villages within their jurisdiction.

Granular lockdowns will be enforced for at least 14 days.

The new community quarantine classifications also have five Alert Levels, which the country’s Department of Health (DOH) will assign to certain areas. These Alert Levels will determine what activities are allowed and prohibited.

The five Alert Levels are:

  • Alert Level 1 – case transmission is low and decreasing, total bed utilization rate, and intensive care unit utilization rate is low.
  • Alert Level 2 – case transmission is low and decreasing, healthcare utilization is low, or case counts are low but increasing, or case counts are low and decreasing but total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate is increasing.
  • Alert Level 3 – case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at increasing utilization.
  • Alert Level 4 – case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate are high.
  • Alert Level 5 – case counts are alarming, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at critical level.

“Areas placed under 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 new guidelines said.

As of writing, there are 2.26 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, with 35,529 fatalities and over 2 million recoveries.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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