Gov’t won’t restrict movement of the unvaccinated yet

Published July 29, 2021, 7:43 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government may consider limiting the movement of the unvaccinated only when a large percentage of the population becomes fully inoculated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with the pandemic task force members at the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on July 24, 2021. (Malacañang)

But for now, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque clarified that the government would not yet impose curbs on the movement of unvaccinated people as earlier mentioned by President Duterte.

The President, in a televised address late Wednesday, told people who refuse to get vaccinated not to leave their homes as a precaution against the virus spread. He directed policemen and barangay officials to escort these people back to their houses “because you’re a walking spreader.”

“Not yet,” Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, July 29, when asked if the President’s latest directive will be enforced.

“I think ang iniisip ni Presidente is how to keep the economy going kung talagang kinakailangan na tayong mag-lockdown. In which, it will not be a complete lockdown. Baka naman pupuwedeng payagang magtrabaho iyong mga bakunado (I think the President’s idea is how to keep the economy going if we really need to impose a lockdown in which it will not be a complete lockdown. The vaccinated may possibly be allowed to go to work),” he said.

Roque however admitted that imposing movement curbs on the unvaccinated may eventually be implemented when population protection is attained in Metro Manila and several other areas.

“Let’s just say that as we are able to vaccinate more and more of our people, we’re headed towards that direction,” Roque said.

So far, the Palace official said 30 percent of the targeted population in Metro Manila have been fully vaccinated.

The government earlier announced plans to achieve population protection by November 2021 by vaccinating 50 to 60 percent of the population in NCR Plus 8 (Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal). Herd immunity is targeted by end-2021 or early 2022 through the vaccination of 50 to 70 million people across the country.

More than 7 million Filipinos have so far been fully vaccinated. Around 11 million already took their first coronavirus shots.

In his remarks Wednesday, the President directed the authorities to check who have been vaccinated in their communities and warn those unvaccinated against roaming around “because they are throwing viruses left and right.”

Duterte also proposed a law “punishing” the unvaccinated who loiter outside their houses and put at risk the health of other people. But in the absence of a law imposing such restriction, Duterte said he was prepared to take responsibility in case lawsuits are filed against the authorities.

Concerned about the Delta variant threat, Duterte is also in favor of opening the vaccination campaign to any person who wants to get vaccinated. He said the vaccines should be given to the willing if those included in the priority list still refuse to be jabbed.