Task force expert backs limited indoor dining for the fully vaccinated

Task force expert backs limited indoor dining for the fully vaccinated
This June 15, 2020, photo shows health protocols being implemented at a restaurant and mall in Quezon City during the first day of allowing dine-in services amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — An expert and member of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 spoke Wednesday in favor of limiting restaurant customers only to those who have received COVID-19 vaccines. 

This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte, who has long held a hardline stance on vaccination, said at a public address that people refusing vaccination should be barred from entering restaurants, resorts, and other similar establishments.

Speaking at the Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday morning, Dr. Ted Herbosa, who serves as the task force's medical adviser, said that those refusing vaccines should be made to eat outside restaurants to prevent possible transmission. 

"If their area is enclosed, I think it is safe policy to only allow the vaccinated so their other clients have protection," he said in mixed Filipino and English. 

"I would want to be around vaccinated people also in restaurants since I take off my mask to eat in the public place. So you're all talking and eating, and there's a chance of getting infected."

The medical expert was careful to draw a distinction between those who "cannot be vaccinated because of some medical condition" and those who refuse to get vaccinated. 

"Those who do not want it, I agree with letting them stay outside," he said. 

Vaccines for COVID-19 do not necessarily prevent infection and transmission of the virus but do protect those inoculated against severe illness, the Department of Health has said.

According to the task force's data, some 76.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Philippines as of Monday, November 22. 

Healthcare workers, of whom there are a total of 1.9 million around the country, have been receiving booster shots for the past week. 

"It's a good policy...Maybe they can accept those who tested positive without a COVID-19 vaccine because they have natural immunity. If you have had COVID or went to the ICU, despite vaccination, you have antibodies. So, I’m safe to be with them," Herbosa also said.   

To date, 21,101 active cases of the pathogen remain in the Philippines, where health authorities have recorded 2.7 million coronavirus infections since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The next round of booster shots is set to go to the immunocompromised and senior citizens. 

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