The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) ordered Thursday, Sept. 16 the local government units and the police forces in Metro Manila to strictly enforce the minimum public health standards (MPHS) with the start of the implementation of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) Alert Level 4 System in the region.
“With the shift to a new alert level system in Metro Manila, the most basic of rules have not changed. We still have to ensure that the people observe MPHS like frequent washing of hands, wearing of face mask and face shield, and physical distancing in order to prevent the further transmission of the virus,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo Año.
Under the new guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), the new quarantine classifications that will be piloted or tested in Metro Manila will have five Alert Levels that would allow most activities except those classified as closed, crowded and close contact (3Cs).
Año noted that the LGUs and the National Capital Region Police Office should reactivate their task force disiplina, barangay disiplina brigades, force multipliers and police marshals to stop activities that are part of the 3Cs.
“While we have allowed many activities to happen under the new Alert Level System, social events like parties, wedding receptions, debuts, birthday and other parties, family reunions, parades, motorcades and gathering at private residences with any person outside of one’s immediate household are not allowed under Alert Level 4,” he added.
Año also urged all barangay captains and chiefs of police to strictly monitor all activities within their areas of jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the new guidelines saying that “those who will not proactively implement the new regulations will be sanctioned for dereliction of duty.’’
The rest of the country will still continue under the old community quarantine classifications.
The DILG chief emphasized that the alert scheme is being implemented in other countries where health professionals observed that the Alert Level system is working provided that it is done in tandem with COVID-19 vaccination.
The NCR vaccination rate has dramatically improved. As of September 13, 8.4 million individuals or 86.55 percent of the eligible population in Metro Manila have at least been injected with one dose and 6 million individuals or 61.38 percent of the eligible population in the National Capital Region (NCR) have had two doses and are now fully protected.
The Department of Health (DOH) has announced that NCR will be placed under Alert Level 4 which means that case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate are high.
In Alert Level 4, outdoor or alfresco dine-in services in restaurants and eateries, outdoor personal care services and outdoor religious services are allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity while indoor services may be allowed at 10 percent capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only.
Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 shall be limited to immediate family members.
Government offices will operate on a 20 percent on-site capacity with the implementation of work-from-home and other flexible work arrangement schemes.
Under IATF guidelines, the Alert Level System in the pilot areas will be determined weekly by the Department of Health with the help of the Sub-Technical Working Group on Analytical Data.
Año said that along with the Alert Level System, granular lockdowns will also be implemented for areas identified as “critical zones” by the LGUs which may be declared regardless of Alert Level.
He added that the authority to impose granular lockdown shall be given to city and municipal mayors with respect to their component barangays subject to the concurrence of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF).
Año added that granular lockdowns may be imposed on individual houses where one household member has been confirmed, residential buildings, streets, blocks, puroks, subdivisions, and/or villages.
“Kailangan dito ang close coordination and cooperation, kailangan natin ang tulong ng ating mamamayan. Marami po nagtatago na sila ay na-infect, dapat kung ikaw ay nagkaroon ng close contact sabihin mo na, ‘wag nang hintayin ang symptoms (Close coordination and cooperation are needed. We need the public’s help. There are lots of people concealing that they were infected. If one is in close contact with an infected person, report it immediately. Do not wait for the symptoms to appear,” he noted.
Año reiterated his call for the public to get vaccinated if given the opportunity to avoid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
He also clarified that a voter’s ID is not a requirement for vaccination, following reports that some LGUs in the provinces require a voter’s ID to get a vaccination schedule.
“Ang ating pagbabakuna ay para sa lahat at hindi kailangang gawing requirement ang voter’s ID (Our vaccination program is for everybody and voter’s ID should not be made as a requirement),’’ the DILG chief emphasized.
Año encouraged the public to immediately report to the DILG instances where the barangays or LGUs require the presentation of voter’s ID prior to vaccination.
“Ipagbigay-alam n’yo agad sa amin sa DILG at pagpapaliwanagin namin ang mga barangay officials na iyan (Report this to us at the DILG immediately and we will ask thse barangay officials to explain),’’ Año said. (Chito A. Chavez)