Beginning Sept. 16, Metro Manila will be placed under Alert Level 4 wherein granular lockdowns will be enforced only in critical areas as part of the improved version to control the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) surge.
This was disclosed by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año Tuesday, Sept. 14 in an interview over GMA News: “Alert Level 4 ang ipapatupad sa NCR (National Capital Region) (Alert Level 4 will be imposed in NCR).”
He confirmed that the Metro Manila mayors have agreed to implement a single alert level in the region.
Based on data analytics, Año noted that five NCR areas are considered Alert Level 5 while two others are considered as Alert Level 3. But most areas are under Alert Level 4.
The government’s new guidelines stated that areas under Alert Level 4, the second highest alert level in the new system are those with COVID-19 case counts that are high or rising while the total beds and intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the hospitals are at high utilization rate.
Those who are not allowed outside their residences under Alert Level 4 are persons below 18 years old, individuals aged over 65 years old, persons with immunodeficiencies, comorbidity, or other health risks and pregnant women
In previous declarations, the DILG said that these individuals will only be allowed to go out to gain access to essential goods and services and for work in permitted industries and offices.
Also under Alert Level 4, intrazonal and interzonal travel for persons not otherwise required to remain at their residences may be allowed subject to the reasonable regulations of the local government units (LGUs) of destination.
Meanwhile, in the same GMA News report individual outdoor exercises are allowed under the alert level for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status, but shall be limited within the general area of their residence.
Under Alert Level 4, outdoor or al fresco dine-in services in restaurants and eateries will operate at the maximum of 30 percent venue/seating capacity regardless of vaccination status.
On the other hand, indoor dine-in services may be allowed at a limited 10 percent of the venue/seating capacity but will cater only to fully vaccinated individuals against COVID-19 in addition to their allowed outdoor or al fresco capacity.
The DILG chief explained that the alert level system is totally different from the community quarantine scheme since the former imposes restrictions in critical zones while allowing economic activities that are not under the granular lockdowns.
Año compared Alert level 4 to the modified community quarantine (MECQ).
In a previous statement, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said the Alert Level 5 which may be compared to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) may be imposed as a last resort when the COVID-19 cases go haywire. (Chito A. Chavez)