October 20, 2021 at 01:25 am
Vito Barcelo and Othel V. Campos
The COVID-19 Alert Level System (ALS) piloted in Metro Manila will be applied to the rest of the country starting Oct. 20, the Palace said Tuesday.
The alert level scheme will replace the current four-tier classification system that comprises the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified ECQ (MECQ), the general community quarantine (GCQ) and the modified GCQ (MGCQ).
The alert level system is more relaxed with age mobility restrictions and provides some perks to fully vaccinated people.
Beginning Oct. 20, 2021, Negros Oriental and Davao Oriental in Mindanao will be placed under Alert Level 4 while the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and the island of Siquijor as well as Davao City and Davao del Norte will be at Alert Level 3.
Those on Alert Level 2 are Batangas, Quezon Province, Lucena City, Bohol, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur, and Davao Oriental.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said the metrics for placing provinces and cities under Alert Level 1 were amended to include the full vaccination of at least 70 percent of their A2, A3, and eligible population.
The guidelines used in the Metro Manila pilot will apply to other areas that will now be under the alert level system, the IATF said.
Previously, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion wanted Metro Manila placed under a lower alert level – Level 2 at the minimum – by next month to help businesses recover at a time when consumer spending is expected to reach its highest.
At an online meeting organized by Go Negosyo to discuss next steps for the National Capital Region (NCR), Concepcion said he is hopeful Metro Manila would be at least Alert Level 2 by November.
“November to me is the most critical because November and December are when spending is at its highest. So ideally, we should be at the minimum Level 2,” he said.
Citing OCTA Research fellow Guido David and molecular biologist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, Concepcion said even Level 1 is possible in November or December, as COVID-19 cases have begun to decline.
“So, if we can get (the government) to agree that we are able to shift down to Level 2 or modified Level 3 this coming week, I think that will be good. Then, we can push more to be able to really open up,” he said.
Earlier, Concepcion said it is time for the government to consider downgrading Metro Manila to Alert Level 2 or Alert Level 3 with 50 percent capacity for businesses and reopen cinemas and wellness industry businesses.
Metro Manila is currently under Alert Level 3.
At the recent Laging Handa briefing, Concepcion said businesses hardly earn at 30 percent capacity.
“Now at 50 percent, you can earn some money. It won’t be that big but at least they would have enough to pay their obligations and hopefully carry them forward until 2022,” he said.
Businesses such as restaurants, gyms and cinemas have expressed support for Concepcion’s push to bring Metro Manila to lower alert levels.
Resto PH president Eric Teng said during the Go Negosyo meeting restaurants fully support the position to go down to Alert Level 2 or 3.
“We already have close to 80 percent vaccinated in Metro Manila…We will have more next month. This is something we must be confident about. We must trust the vaccine. We must let the vaccinated out. Let us give them more freedom to revive our economy,” he said.
Anytime Fitness Philippines co-founder Miguel Gutierrez said gyms also support having Metro Manila under Alert Level 2 or 3.
Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines president Charmaine Bauzon said cinemas want to be allowed to operate at least at 30 percent capacity to be able to restart only for fully vaccinated.
She said it would be important to convince not just the IATF but also local government units, citing that while cinemas were allowed by the pandemic task force to reopen in February, Metro Manila mayors decided to keep these closed.
“This time around, we hope everybody will fully support,” she said.