'Medyo sigurado': DILG says interzonal travel to be restricted due to Delta variant

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
'Medyo sigurado': DILG says interzonal travel to be restricted due to Delta variant
Vendors, delivery drivers and others who work at the night market in Divisoria, Manila wait for their turn to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine on July 5, 2021 as the local government starts their night vaccination program which will cater to individuals who cannot go to inoculation sites during daytime.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Restrictions on interzonal travel are now within the realm of possibility with cases of the coronavirus' Delta variant confirmed in the Philippines, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said. 

This comes just weeks after the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases said that a COVID-19 domestic vaccination card or a certificate of quarantine completion would count as alternatives to a testing requirement for travel between areas with different quarantine levels. 

"Medyo sigurado po na magkakaroon ng higpitan [sa interzonal travels] ngayon at base po ito sa direktiba ng ating Pangulo kagabi," DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said at the Laging Handa briefing Tuesday morning. 

(We're a bit sure that there are going to be restrictions now based on the directives of our President last night.) 

"But before we do that, we will have a dialogue with local officials...Our rule, as much as possible, is that we will not lock down a province or a city," he added in Filipino. 

Earlier, the OCTA Research Group stricter implementation of the NCR Plus bubble to prevent the Delta variant from entering the region. 

"We should not wait for it to enter...It will spread fast and will be hard to prevent once it starts in our region," OCTA fellow Guido David told dzMM's "Teleradyo" earlier Sunday. 

A number of local government units including Navotas City have already put in place their own restrictions on interzonal travel, such as medical certificates and negative RT-PCR test results. 

But Densing said no large-scale restrictions would be imposed for now until the dialogue with local governments takes place.

"What we will intensify is the lockdown of small streets, villages, or the granular lockdowns," he said. 

READ: 'NCR Plus' bubble enforcement crucial to prevent spread of Delta variant — OCTA

Politicians urged: Defer party meetings 

The DILG exec also urged politicians and their party members to defer meetings for the time being given the risks posed by the Delta variant. 

"We have received reports of mass gatherings or the politicians have started to hold meetings. We hope that politicians think twice and defer these meetings because these are mass gatherings as well," he said in Filipino. 

This comes after a number of meetings held by the administration Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan party headed by President Rodrigo Duterte. 

The Philippine National Police, an attached bureau under the DILG, has also expressed its willingness to implement strict quarantine rules again should President Rodrigo Duterte issue the order later on. 

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has also ordered the PNP to further increase police visibility in public areas to prevent mass gatherings and other superspreader events. 

According to the Department of Health, 35 cases of the Delta variant have been confirmed so far. 

To date, 1.5 million coronavirus cases have been recorded in the Philippines, 47,561 of whom are still active cases. 

 with a report from Christian Deiparine 

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