Metro Manila residents will wake up to the relaxed protocols of alert level 2 on Friday, Nov. 5.
But what exactly changed in terms of can and can’t be done with the the National Capital Region’s (NCR) de-escalation to alert level 2 from alert level 3? Well, there are a handful of changes under the latest Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines for the pilot implementation of the Alert Level System (ALS) for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) dated Nov. 4, 2021.
According to the 12-page document, alert level 2 covers “areas wherein case transmission is low and decreasing, healthcare utilization is low, or case counts are low but increasing, or case counts are low and decreasing but total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate is increasing”.
Under alert level 2, the majority of business establishments amd services are now allowed to operate, or be undertaken “at a maximum of 50 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and even those below 18 years of age, even if unvaccinated, and 70 percent outdoor capacity”.
“Provided, that all workers/ employees of those establishments are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and MPHS (minimum public health standards) shall be strictly maintained. Provided further, that there is no objection from the LGU (local government units) where these activities may take place,” the guidelines said.
Compare this to the erstwhile 30 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals, and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity under alert level 3. There was no provision for minors regardless of vaccination status under alert level 3, which was first implemented less than three weeks ago.
The prohibited activities under alert level 3 that have been granted the IATF’s nod under alert level 2 are the following:
— Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for basic education subject to prior approval of the Office of the President;
— Contact sports approved by the LGU where such games shall be held;
– Funfair/ peryas and kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides;
– Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as in karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters; and
– Gatherings in residences with individuals not belonging to the same household.
“Agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall remain to be fully operational and shall adhere to at least 50 percent on-site capacity while applying work-from-home and other flexible work arrangements,” the guidelines said. The allowed on-site capacity under alert level 3 was only 30 percent.
Meanwhile, casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments “shall not be allowed to operate, or be undertaken in areas classified under alert level 2 except as may be authorized by the IATF or the Office of the President”.
Other allowed establishments and services under alert level 2 that will operate based on the 50 percent indoor, 70 percent outdoor rule are the following:
– Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE);
– Permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers;
– Visitor or tourist attractions such as libraries, archives, museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, plazas, public gardens, scenic viewpoints or overlooks, and the like;
– Amusement parks or theme parks;
– Recreational venues such as Internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, skating rinks, archery halls, swimming pools, and similar venues;
– Cinemas and movie houses;
— Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for basic education subject to prior approval of the Office of the President; *
– Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for higher education and for technical-vocational education and training;
– In-person religious gatherings, gatherings for neurological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of the COVID-19 deceased;
– Licensure or entrance/ qualifying examinations administered by their respective government agency, and specialty examinations authorized by the IATF subject to the health and safety guidelines as approved by the IATF;
– Dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries subject to DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) sector-specific protocols;
– Personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those offering aesthetic/ cosmetic services or procedures, make-up services, salons, spas, reflexology, and other similar procedures including home service options, subject to the sector-specific protocols of the DTI;
– Fitness studios, gyms, and venues for non-contact exercise and sports, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols. Provided that patrons/ clients and workers/ employees wear face masks at all times and that no group activities are conducted; and
– Film, music, and television production, subject to the joint guidelines as may be issued by the DTI, DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), and the DOH (Department of Health).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced the lowering of alert level in NCR or Metro Manila on Thursday night. The metropolis will remain under alert level 2 until Nov. 21, 2021.