^

Nation

MMDA: Metro Manila mayors open to proposed restriction-free 'Alert Level 0'

Philstar.com
MMDA: Metro Manila mayors open to proposed restriction-free 'Alert Level 0'
People visit Manila Zoo on March 6, 2022, as the government placed some parts of the country on the lowest pandemic alert system.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — The government has yet to reach a consensus on whether the country is ready for a shift to 'Alert Level 0' — which would essentially do away with restrictions under the government's alert level system — although some officials are wary of the proposal.

In an interview aired over DZBB Super Radyo, Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Frisco San Juan, Jr. said that the National Capital Region's local chief executives were in favor of the move. 

"This is okay with the mayors but we are also ready to stay at Alert Level 1 until the end," he said in mixed Filipino and English. 

San Juan, however, admitted that complacency and vaccine hesitancy are becoming a problem in the capital region. As it currently stands, Metro Manila and other areas around the country are on the loosest Alert Level 1 from March 1 to 15. 

"There are some who do not get vaccinated because they think, because the cases are low, it is no longer necessary," he said. "Most of those who have been vaccinated, because of how many they are, are already becoming complacent."

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said that such a shift would push local governments to accelerate vaccination to allow their localities to qualify for less stringent measures.

But the Department of Health has been saying that vaccination has slowed down because people have become complacent as COVID-19 cases go down. Vaccination has also been hampered by vaccine hesitancy in some Filipinos as well as logisitical issues, although the DOH has gone door to door in areas to offer inoculation against COVID-19.

"I support the move...I think it is high time we trust the business owners on what they need to do to protect themselves and their customers," Concepcion said in a statement Saturday. 

"So far, we have not seen any super spreader events that can be directly attributed to the rallies,” he added, referring to campaign rallies being held nationwide ahead of the May 9 elections.

Face masks optional?

Concepcion said that wearing face masks no longer has to be necessary in outdoor situations, except when physical distancing is not possible, similar to the situation in political rallies.

At the Laging Handa briefing Saturday, Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said that the government should wait for the pathogen's endemic stage first before doing away with restrictions. 

"We see that based on the data from the past few weeks is that the percentage of COVID cases versus the percentage of flu cases is almost the same. What's important is for COVID-19 to be declared an endemic," he said in mixed Filipino and English. 

To date, the Department of Health has recorded 3.6 million cases of the virus since the Philippines' first case was recorded.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez has said for his part that it is still "too early" to consider such a shift, saying the government should wait for the endemic stage first. 

"I think it’s too premature...Gradual phasing down [is] needed. Campaign sorties can lead to surges. The local campaign period will reel off on March 25," Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said in a tweet. 

"Why are we in a hurry to shift to Alert Level 0? Complacency kills and leads to surges. We have seen the unexpected surges in Hong Kong, South Korea, and other Southeast Asian countries," he also said. 

— Franco Luna with a report from One News/Louella Desiderio 

COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with