The Philippine government will maintain for now, the second-highest level of anti-Covid-19 lockdown in most of Metro Manila (pictured), instead of moving the majority of the capital to softer restrictions from Wednesday (September 8), as it had previously flagged.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque stated on Tuesday – as cited by the official Philippine News Agency – that the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the body advising the government on the pandemic, had taken the decision to keep Metro Manila in “modified enhanced community quarantine”.
On Monday, the presidential spokesperson had said lockdown measures in Metro Manila would be eased to “general community quarantine” starting on Wednesday, and running until September 30, but with some stricter lockdowns in Covid-19 hotspots, described in jargon terms as “granular” lockdowns.
The government now says Metro Manila will remain under the higher quarantine classification until September 15. The easing to general community quarantine could come sooner, if the Inter-Agency Task Force begins pilot-testing an alert system that can implement granular lockdowns under a “four-level” system, the presidential spokesperson’s office said.
Only certain areas such as either neighbourhoods, streets, or subdivisions identified as high risk for Covid-19 would be placed under a granular lockdown, unlike community quarantines declared for an entire region or province.
Mr Roque said the Inter-Agency Taskforce would also consult the local government units in Metro Manila before finalising the guidelines on the implementation of localised lockdowns in the region.
The pilot testing would be assessed every two weeks, reported the Philippine News Agency.
The month of May, a time when Metro Manila was downgraded to general quarantine, coincided with the casino resorts of the Entertainment City zone being allowed to reopen. Such resorts have previously been closed under lockdowns stricter than general quarantine.
It was not immediately clear from available information, whether the Entertainment City casino resorts would eventually be allowed to resume operations under the more relaxed general quarantine.
The spokesperson’s office announcement only mentions that operation of indoor and al-fresco dine-in services, and personal care services including beauty salons, beauty parlours and nail spas remains prohibited under the enhanced quarantine.
The Philippine News Agency reported that some local government units in the National Capital Region had already implemented granular lockdowns in their respective areas.
Local media separately reported that so-called “hard lockdowns” would be limited to small areas, so that the rest of Metro Manila could remain open for economic activity to some extent.
The Philippine News Agency reported that under the granular lockdown system, the strictest protocol would be “Alert Level 4”, where no one would be allowed to go out of their homes except healthcare workers.
Under “Alert Level 3”, only 30 percent of residents would be allowed to go out; and 50 percent under “Alert Level 2″.
“Alert Level 1″ would have the least restriction under what the news agency reported as “the new normal”.
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