The National Capital Region (NCR) will be under stricter measures starting the year 2022 after the government's pandemic task force decided to place the region under Alert Level 3 from January 3 to 15 due to the recent spike of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
In a special announcement on New Year's Eve, December 31, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases made the decision to escalate the alert level prevent a surge of cases.
"Nakita naman natin sa mga nakaraang araw ay nag-increase exponentially ang mga kaso dahil sa holiday activities kung saan tumaas ang movement ng mga tao at bumaba ang compliance sa minimum public health standards (We saw in the past few days that the number of cases had increased exponentially due to the Holiday activities where there were more human movement but the compliance to minimum public health standards declined)," he said on Friday evening.
Another reason, according to Nograles, is due to the high possibility of the local transmission of the Omicron variant.
"The epidemiological investigation on the three local cases indicates there is high possibility of local transmission of Omicron," he said.
Metro Manila was initially placed under Alert Level 2 for the first half of January.
Dos and Don'ts
The following are not allowed under Alert Level 3:
- Face to face classes for basic education
- Contact sports, except those conducted under a bubble-type setup
- Funfairs/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
- Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments
- Gatherings in residences with individuals not belonging to the same household
While intrazonal and interzonal travel remain allowed under Alert Level 3, the following activities and businesses are allowed at 30-percent indoor capacity for the fully vaccinated and 50-percent outdoor capacity for the unvaccinated:
- Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE)
- Permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, family reunions, and other similar activities
- Visitor or tourist attractions such as libraries, museums, galleries, 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 classes for higher education and for technical-vocational education and training
- In-person religious gatherings
- Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for COVID-19 non-COVID-19 deaths
- Licensure or entrance/qualifying examinations and specialty examinations
- Dine-in services in food preparation establishments
- Personal care establishments such as barbershops, spas, salons, aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures, reflexology, and other similar procedures including home service options
- Fitness studios, gyms, and venues for non-contact exercise and sports (group activities are not allowed)
- Film, music, and television production
Aside from this, Nograles said the IATF has tasked a technical working group led by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the National Vaccination Operations Center to formulate guidelines for stricter measures for unvaccinated individuals against COVID-19.
The Palace official likewise reminded the public of the existing isolation and quarantine period.
Individuals who test positive but are asymptomatic, or show mild or moderate symptoms are required to undergo isolation for 10 days. Those who test positive but show severe and critical symptoms are to undergo isolation for 21 days.
Fully vaccinated close contacts are to undergo quarantine for seven days while unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals must undergo quarantine for 14 days.