Change is indeed coming to Metro Manila starting September 16 as the national authorities announced yesterday (as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer) as the entire metropolis will fall under what is referred to as Alert Level 4 in relation to the new guidelines that got ratified by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
What can National Capital Region (NCR) residents and stakeholders expect over the 15-day period? To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Inquirer report. Some parts in boldface…
Metro Manila will be placed under Alert Level 4 starting Sept. 16 until Sept. 30, which is the start of the pilot run of granular lockdowns, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday.
Año said Metro Manila mayors have agreed to implement just one alert level as a whole “for uniformity and easier enforcement.”
“Yes, under Alert Level 4 because the NCR (National Capital Region) mayors reached a consensus that they will follow one Alert Level only,” he said in a text message to INQUIRER.net.
“For uniformity and easier enforcement within NCR, they agreed to be under Level 4. Hanggang Sept. 30 ang pilot testing,” he added.
Año said the majority of areas in the metro belong to Alert Level 4, anyway, but some qualify for Alert Level 5 while at least two areas under Alert Level 3.
Based on the new guidelines on granular lockdowns, areas under Alert Level 4, which is the second highest alert level in the new system, are those with high and/or increasing COVID-19 transmission and high total bed and intensive care unit utilization rates.
Persons aged below 18 and above 65 and those with health risks, including pregnant women, must stay at home unless they need to access essential goods and services or have to go to work.
Intrazonal and interzonal travel for persons who are not required to stay at their homes may be allowed subject to guidelines of their destination local government unit.
Individual outdoor exercises are likewise allowed in areas under Alert Level 4 for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status, but they must remain within the area of their residence.
Government agencies in areas placed under Alert Level 4 must remain fully operational while employing at least 20 percent on-site capacity with the rest under a work-from-home or flexible schedule scheme.
Under Alert Level 4, outdoor dine-in services in restaurants and eateries are only allowed at 30 percent venue capacity.
Meanwhile, indoor dine-in services are allowed to open at 10 percent capacity, but they may only cater to persons fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
All workers of these establishments must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Furthermore, LGUs may decrease the allowable capacity for these restaurants and eateries.
Personal care services limited to barbershops, hair spas, nail spas, and beauty salons are allowed at 30 percent capacity “if such services are conducted outdoors regardless of vaccination status.” But if these are indoors, the IATF said they may only operate at 10 percent capacity.
Clients must also wear face masks at all times and all employees should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Religious gatherings, meanwhile, can be held on 30 percent venue capacity if conducted outdoors regardless of vaccination status but only 10 percent will be allowed if conducted indoors and they may only accommodate persons fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, or other religious ministers and the assistants of these religious congregations must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must observe minimum public health standards.
That was a heavy load of details above. Were you able to read and understand it immediately? If you are having trouble understanding, you are not alone. What I’d like to point out that it is a relief for businesses offering personal care services and businesses in the food-and-beverage industry to be allowed to operate with the declared limits above. For the restaurants, coffee shops and other related food-and-beverage joints, take-out and delivery are still too limiting for their survival.
As for churches allowed to hold faith gatherings, what was stated above is a relief albeit with limitations. The 10% limit on venue capacity for indoor worship services is indeed small even for the fully vaccinated people who want to worship the Lord on-site (which is much more engaging than online worship). The 10% limit for on-site worship will have to do for now in Metro Manila until the end of this month. Whatever the declared limits are, never lose faith in God and keep praying to Him that the national and local authorities will do better and govern knowing that He is watching all of us.
Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about the Alert Level 4 status for Metro Manila lasting for the rest of September? If you are a business owner, are the declared Alert Level 4 limitations good enough? If you are a pastor or church organizer, what do you think about the 10% limit on capacity venue for indoor worship? Is the requirement for pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, or other ministers and personnel on churches to be fully vaccinated too imposing on the part of the government and possibly unconstitutional? Do having multiple alert levels look confusing to you right now? Do you heavily trust the Metro Manila mayors and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) over the way they have been managing the metropolis?
You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.
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