COVID-19 Crisis: Alert Level 1 status in Metro Manila takes effect today with amended guidelines

Thanks to the Lord who listens to the prayers of the faithful and will never abandon them, Alert Level 1 is now in effect all over Metro Manila which will last until March 15, 2022. Along the way, the national authorities amended the guidelines for Alert Level, according to the Philippine News Agency (PNA). There will still be specific rules that need to be followed and things like face masks and vaccination cards are still required. As such, pay close attention to the details about the amended guidelines.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Sunday approved the amendments to the guidelines on the nationwide implementation of the Alert Level System for Covid-19 response.

This, after the IATF also approved on Sunday placing the National Capital Region and 38 other areas under Alert Level 1 from March 1 to 15.

Under Alert Level 1, the IATF said there are no restrictions in terms of indoor and outdoor capacities. Everyone can undertake intrazonal and interzonal travel without regard to age and even comorbidities.

All establishments, persons, or activities are likewise allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at total on-site or venue seating capacity, provided these are consistent with minimum public health standards.

Meanwhile, face-to-face classes for primary education shall be subject to prior approval of the Office of the President.

Below are some of the protocols to be observed under Alert Level 1:

*Well-fitted face masks shall be worn properly at all times, whether outdoors or in indoor private or public establishments, including in public transportation by land, air or sea, except when eating and drinking, participating in team and individual sports in venues where ventilation standards can be maintained, and practicing outdoor sports/exercise activities where physical distance can be maintained;

*All private offices and workplaces, including public and private construction sites, may operate at full 100 percent capacity, consistent with national issuances on vaccination requirements for on-site work. However, they may continue to provide flexible and alternative work arrangements as deemed appropriate based on function or individual risk.

*Agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall likewise adhere to 100 percent on-site workforce. Off-site work shall be under such work arrangements subject to relevant rules and regulations issued by the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the President.

*On the other hand, public transportation in areas under Alert Level 1 shall be at full seating capacity. For intrazonal and interzonal travels involving public land transportation between an area with a higher alert level classification and an area under Alert Level 1, the passenger capacity shall be that which has the lower passenger capacity rate between the point of origin and point of destination. For aviation, maritime and rail public transport operating in and out of Alert Levels 1 areas, the passenger capacity will be at 100 percent. The use of acrylic and/or plastic dividers in public transportation shall not be required. The use of the Safe, Swift and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) travel management system shall likewise not be required for interzonal travel to areas under Alert Level 1.

*On contact tracing, the use of health declaration forms/paper-based contact tracing shall not be required for all the agencies and establishments under Alert Level 1. On the other hand, the use of digital contact tracing such as the StaySafe.PH application is optional for all the agencies and establishments.

*On testing prioritization, testing protocols shall be implemented, consistent with national guidelines, for individuals who are unvaccinated or have higher exposure risk pursuant to IATF Resolution No. 148-B and No. 149, s. 2021. In addition, testing using RT-PCR shall be recommended and prioritized for: Priority Groups A2 (persons above 60 years old) and A3 (persons with comorbidities) and Priority Group A1 or healthcare workers. Testing shall be optional for other groups not stated above. It shall not be recommended for asymptomatic close contacts unless symptoms will develop, and should immediately isolate regardless of test results. Instead, symptom monitoring is recommended. Should testing still be used, testing should be done at least 5 days from the day of last exposure. Testing shall also not be recommended for screening asymptomatic individuals. Meanwhile, testing using antigen tests shall be recommended only for symptomatic individuals and in instances wherein RT-PCR is not available, consistent with previously issued guidelines.

*The Hospital Infection Prevention and Control Committees (HIPCC) may implement testing protocols in health facilities for health workers and patients based on their assessment of risk and benefit.

*On isolation and quarantine, updated quarantine protocols for incoming international travelers shall be consistent with IATF Resolution No. 160 A/B, and updated isolation and quarantine protocols for general public and healthcare workers and authorized sectors shall be consistent with DOH Dept Memo No. 2022-0013.

*Under Alert Level 1, establishments are no longer required to set-up isolation facilities within the workplace.

*On treatment, close contacts, asymptomatic confirmed cases and mild to moderate confirmed cases shall be managed at the primary care level, such as health centers, private clinics thru face to face or teleconsultation, while confirmed cases with severe and critical symptoms shall be managed in the appropriate health care facility.

*In the case of reintegration, isolation can be discontinued upon completion of the recommended isolation period, provided that they do not have fever for at least 24 hours without the use of any antipyretic medications, and shall have improvement of respiratory signs and symptoms.

*For the purpose of claiming sick leave, health benefits or other relevant processes wherein the proofs of Covid-19 management are necessary, a medical certification may suffice provided it should include the following minimum information: name of patient, severity of symptoms, diagnosis as probable or confirmed COVID-19, and date of end of quarantine and/or isolation period.

Meanwhile, individuals 18 years old and above will be required to present proof of full vaccination before participating in mass gatherings or entry into indoor establishments, such as but not limited to:

*In-person religious gatherings; gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals for those who died of causes other than Covi-19 and for the cremains of the Covid-19 deceased;

*All indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants and eateries. For outdoor or al fresco dining and take out channels, no proof of full vaccination is required;

*All indoor 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;

*Fitness studios, gyms and venues for exercise and sports;

*All indoor cinemas or movie houses operating at full capacity;

*Meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibition events and 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;

*Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as in karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls and theaters;

*Indoor ancillary establishments in hotels and other accommodation establishments; and

*Venues for election-related events.

Proof of full vaccination shall be required before entry in the list of establishments identified under the principles of 3C’s strategy against Covid-19.

Children ages 17 and below shall not be required to present proof of vaccination status.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this new development? If you are a Metro Manila resident, do you feel very relieved about Alert Level 1 in effect for the next two weeks?

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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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

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