Lesser restrictions for vaccinated individuals under granular lockdown?

Published September 6, 2021, 1:29 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Individuals who are vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may be allowed to do more essential activities as the government recalibrates its pandemic response and tries the enforcement of granular lockdown in the National Capital Region (NRC), an official of a task force on pandemic response said Monday, Sept. 6.

Retired Major Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesperson of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19. (File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Retired general Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesperson of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, said the implementation of granular lockdown may be the country’s way of transitioning to the “new normal,” or the new way of living in time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bilang pagbibigay daan sa pagpoprotekta ng mga hindi pa nababakunahan, iyon po ang restriction. Pero doon po sa paglabas at pagpunta sa essential activities ng ating vaccinated individuals, mas magiging maluwag (To give way for the protection of the unvaccinated, we need the restrictions. But as for vaccinated individuals, going out of their homes and attending to essential activities will be easier),” Padilla said in a “Laging Handa” press briefing.

He added the granular lockdown will pave the way for the gradual easing of restrictions in non-essential activities such as dine in in restaurants, church weddings, mass, and funerals among others.

“Ito po ang pagbibigay daan sa ‘normalization’ na tinatawag natin at pinaguusapan natin. Ang expected dito ay habang umuusad ang ating pagbabakuna, lumalawak at gumaganda rin ang ating pagbaba ng kaso dahil mas marami na pong nagiging protektado na mga kababayan natin (This would pave the way for what we call ‘normalization.’ What we expect is that as we move forward with our vaccination, the cases will drop because more people are getting protected),” he stated.

All the implementing guidelines under the granular lockdown set-up are still being evaluated by the technical working group (TWG) of the NTF and they are expected to be released before the pilot in NCR begins.

The government will pilot the enforcement of granular lockdown in NCR on Wednesday, Sept. 8, as it tries to do away with the region-wide lockdown due to the devastating effect it has on the economy.

Under the current set-up, the NCR is placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until Sept. 7 where only authorized persons outside of residence (APORs) are allowed to go out of their homes to do essential activities.

However, Padilla said granular lockdown has already been enforced before albeit in certain cities only. Granular lockdown refers to the placement under strict lockdown of a particular building or establishment, street, barangay or other small areas with a high transmission of cases instead of declaring an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in an entire region.

It essentially delegates the responsibility of placing particular areas under lockdown in the hands of local government officials instead of the national government.

Last week, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Sec. Ramon Lopez said that under granular lockdown, only certain pockets of areas with high transmission of cases will be placed under hard lockdown. It will also be categorized in four levels, Level 1 to 4, with Level 4 the most strict of all.

Will there be ‘ayuda’?

Since placing an area under lockdown will now be the responsibility of local chief executives, the provision of “ayuda” or financial assistance will also be shouldered by the local government unit (LGU) while the national government will assist them, says Padilla.

“Tulung-tulong naman ito kaya tayo nagbabayanihan. Ang ating LGUs, although sila ang nakatutok sa pagpapatupad ng mga lockdown na ito, sila rin ang tutulong sa kanilang mga constitutents with the assistance of the national government (We are to help each other because this is ‘bayanihan.’ Our LGUs, although they are the ones that will enforce the lockdown, shall also help the constituents with the assistance of the national government),” he explained.

Police and military personnel will also continue to man the streets to ensure minimum public health standards are being followed.

Padilla said the region-wide granular lockdown is a new strategy that is seen to be a key contributor in balancing public health and the country’s economy amid a worsening surge of cases.

“Ito na ang sinasabi natin noon pa na delicate balancing act between public health at saka ang ekonomiya natin. Alam naman natin malaki po ang naging epekto sa malawakan at istriktong lockdown sa ating ekonomiya noong mga nakaraang buwan at nakaraang taon (This is what we’ve been saying even before about the delicate balancing act between public health and the economy. We all know that the wide and strict lockdown greatly affected our economy in the past months and last year),” he noted.