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A guide to the new alert levels system in Metro Manila

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
A guide to the new alert levels system in Metro Manila
Authorities monitor Brgy. 177 in Caloocan City which is placed under granular lockdown due to COVID-19 cases on Sept. 6, 2021.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The government will roll out on September 16 its experiment on new coronavirus curbs in Metro Manila in the hopes of minimizing the spread of the virus while allowing some businesses to resume operations.

Under the new policy, the community quarantine classifications that people have grown familiar with would be trashed in favor of alert levels which would be based on the virus transmission rate, hospital bed utilization rate and intensive care utilization rate of a city or municipality.

Only two community quarantine classifications will remain: Enhanced Community Quarantine and General Community Quarantine, where the new alert levels will come into play.

Instead of imposing region-wide lockdowns, the government will now impose granular lockdowns, where smaller areas will be placed under stricter mobility restrictions.

Still have questions about the new alert levels system? We answer some of them here.

What are the alert levels?

Alert Level 5

There are five alert levels under the new system, according to its guidelines released by the government’s pandemic task force, with Alert Level 5 being the highest and having the strictest restrictions which are identical to ECQ. 

When an area is under Alert Level 5, coronavirus cases are “alarming” and hospital bed and intensive care utilization is at critical levels.

Alert Level 4

Alert Level 4 follows, where cases are high and/or increasing, and hospital bed and intensive care utilization are high.

Under Alert Level 4, people below 18 and above 65, those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities and other health risks, and pregnant women will not be allowed to leave their homes except to access essential goods and services or to work in permitted industries.

People not covered by these mobility restrictions are allowed to move in areas of the same or different community quarantine classification, subject to reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination.

Individual outdoor exercises are allowed for all ages, provided that these are limited within their barangay, purok, subdivision or village.

Some restrictions are eased under Alert Level 4, where dining, barbershops, hair spas, nail spas and beauty salons, and religious gatherings are allowed outdoors at 30% capacity. These activities are also permitted indoors, but only at 10% capacity and only for fully-vaccinated individuals.

The government’s pandemic task force determines these activities to be “high-risk for transmission” and will not be allowed to operate 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/peryas, 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 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, provided that they are not in areas under granular lockdown, may operate at 100% capacity, but are encouraged to operate with minimal on-site capacity and implement flexible work arrangements.

Government work shall be fully operational under Alert Level 4, but only 20% of its workforce will report on-site.

Alert Level 3

Alert Level 3 will be raised in areas where COVID-19 cases are high and/or increasing and there is increasing utilization of hospital beds and ICUs.

Restrictions on the movement of people based on age and comorbidities will be left up to the local government, subject to the oversight, monitoring and evaluation of the regional pandemic task force. These restrictions must not be stricter than what will be imposed under Alert Level 4.

People not covered by these mobility restrictions are allowed to move in areas of the same or different community quarantine classification, subject to reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination.

Individual outdoor exercises are allowed for all ages under Alert Level 3.

Areas under Alert Level 3 will see a marked loosening of restrictions, with most of the establishments and activities previously banned under Alert Level 4 being allowed to reopen at 30% capacity, and even at 40% capacity if they have obtained a Safety Seal from the government.

Only indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, venues with live performers like karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters, and outdoor and indoor amusement parks or theme parks, funfairs/peryas, kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom and kiddie rides will remain prohibited under Alert Level 3.

All other establishments or activities in areas not under granular lockdowns are allowed to operate at 100% capacity, but are still encouraged to minimize on-site capacity and implement flexible work arrangements.

Government agencies will be fully operational under Alert Level 3, with at least 30% of its workers reporting on site.

Alert Level 2

Alert Level 2 will be hoisted in areas where case transmission is low and decreasing, healthcare utilization is low, or cases are low but increasing, or cases are low and decreasing but bed utilization and ICU utilization is increasing.

The national government is again letting local governments determine movement restrictions based on age and comorbidities, as long as they are not stricter than what is imposed under Alert Level 4.

People not covered by these mobility restrictions are allowed to move in areas of the same or different community quarantine classification, subject to reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination.

Individual outdoor exercises are allowed for all ages under Alert Level 2.

Under this alert level, all establishments and activities banned under Alert Level 4 are allowed at 50% capacity, or even up to 60% if they have the government’s Safety Seal.

All other establishments or activities in areas not under granular lockdowns are allowed to operate at 100% capacity, but are still encouraged to minimize on-site capacity and implement flexible work arrangements.

Government agencies will be fully operational under Alert Level 2, with at least 50% of its workers reporting on site.

Alert Level 1

Alert Level 1 is the loosest of all alert levels, where virus transmission is low and decreasing, and total bed utilization rate and ICU utilization rate are low.

All people are allowed to move except for reasonable restrictions on activities and spaces that are closed, crowded or require close contact, as identified by local governments.

All establishments and activities are allowed to operate and be undertaken at full capacity, subject to minimum public health standards.

Who will declare the alert levels?

The Department of Health is mandated to identify the alert level of Metro Manila. It will revisit the alert level weekly.

What alert level will Metro Manila be in?

Mayors in Metro Manila have agreed that the whole region should be placed under one alert level only. Beginning September 16, the capital region will be placed under Alert Level 4.

Who will declare granular lockdowns?

City and municipal mayors are empowered by the IATF to impose granular lockdowns on individual houses, residential buildings, streets, blocks, puroks, subdivisions and/or villages within their jurisdiction.

How long will granular lockdowns last?

According to IATF guidelines, granular lockdowns should last for at least 14 days.

Who can go out during granular lockdowns?

The IATF drastically trimmed down the list of people who can leave their homes during granular lockdowns. Only healthcare workers and other healthcare personnel would be allowed to move within, into and out of areas under granular lockdowns.

Overseas Filipino workers bound for international travel may exit areas under granular lockdown, while returning OFWs will be allowed to enter.

Similarly, people who left their homes before a granular lockdown took effect may return, but may no longer leave for the duration of the lockdown.

People under exceptional circumstances, including those who have emergencies, may be allowed to leave the area under granular lockdown.

Food and essential items intended for delivery in an area under granular lockdown are allowed, but only up until the border collection points designated by local governments.

Will there be aid to people under granular lockdown?

Yes. According to IATF guidelines, local governments and the Department of Social Welfare and Development will provide them assistance. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año previously said in a TV interview that this will be through the provision of food stubs.

ALERT LEVEL SYSTEM COVID-19 PANDEMIC METRO MANILA
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 14, 2021 - 10:16am

Follow this thread for updates on COVID-19 risk levels, safety measures, and data from Metro Manila's local government units.

Photo: The STAR/Michael Varcas

September 14, 2021 - 10:16am

Metro Manila will be placed under general community quarantine with alert level 4 starting September 16, according Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

Under alert level 4, alfresco dine-in is allowed up to 30% capacity while indoor dine-in is allowed up to 10% capacity but for fully vaccinated customers only.

Personal care services and religious gatherings will be allowed up to 30% capacity if outdoor and 10% capacity for indoor but for fully vaccinated only.

September 9, 2021 - 12:55pm

A total of 122 individuals, including 99 children, at the Gentlehands Orphanage in Quezon City tested positive with COVID-19.

Following this development, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte called on the management of workplaces to strictly implement minimum public health protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Dapat maging mahigpit ang ating persons in authority sa pagpapatupad nito para maiwasan natin ang pagkalat ng virus," Belmonte says in a statement.

September 8, 2021 - 11:48am

The government should compensate small businesses in Metro Manila that were affected by shifting decisions on quarantine classifications, Akbayan paty-list says.

Metro Manila was supposed to shift to General Community Quarantine on Wednesday until an announcement on Tuesday evening that that planned shift, which was supposed to also see a shift to "granular" lockdowns, would be deferred until September 15 or until guidelines are finalized.

"The [Inter-Agency Task Force] must reimburse small businesses that incurred losses due to its ‘laban-bawi’ quarantine protocols. This kind of negligence and thoughtlessness from the government hurts everyone, especially small enterprises and their workers who are trying their best to survive despite the pandemic," party-list nominee Perci Cendaña says in a statement.

September 7, 2021 - 6:50pm

Metro Manila to remain under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine until September 15, 2021 or until the government irons out guidelines on a new quarantine system, the Palace announces.

Metro Manila was supposed to revert to General Community Quarantine from September 8 as the government tests using 'granular' lockdowns instead of region-wide quarantine classifications.

September 6, 2021 - 12:40pm

Metro Manila is reverting to the more lenient General Community Quarantine from September 8 to 30, according to a resolution by the inter-agency pandemic task force.

Members of the task force last week said the government may shift to "granular" lockdowns, or smaller-scale and localized hard lockdowns, instead of classifications that are region-wide.  

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