COVID-19

Davao lifts physical distancing rule but wearing masks still required

Grace Albasin
Davao lifts physical distancing rule but wearing masks still required
Mayor Sara Duterte says the easing of restrictions would pave the way for the opening of the economy

BUKIDNON, Philippines – Davao City will no longer impose the one-meter physical distancing rule that has been in place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Sara Duterte lifted the rule on Monday, March 7, along with most COVID-19 public safety measures, except for the wearing of masks.

Wearing of face masks in public is still required, except when eating or drinking.  Public and private offices and business establishments should provide alcohol or hand sanitizers in their premises.

The mayor said the easing of restrictions would pave the way for the opening of the economy.

Davao City has been on Alert Level 1 since March 1 and its single-day cases have been declining. The positivity rate ranged between 3% to 5%.

As of March 7, Davao City logged 174 active cases from 775 cases on February 21, and 370 cases on February 28. 

The city also logged 22 deaths from March 1 to 8. 

Duterte expressed confidence that the city would be able to rebound, following the decline in cases and the high vaccination rate. More than 1.28 million people or  84.19% of the city’s targeted 1,518,289 population are fully vaccinated.

However, the city has given booster shots to only 214,765 individuals.

The city also won’t require inbound travelers to present COVID-19-related documents such as vaccination cards or certificates. 

Public transport and indoor capacities of business establishments are back to pre-pandemic operations while alternative work arrangements in both local and national government offices and private firms have been lifted.

The QR code is no longer imposed for contact tracing purposes. The city allows home isolation for those who test positive for COVID-19 while no more lockdowns will be implemented. 

The return to in-person classes no longer requires permission from the city government as the mayor issued Executive Order No. 9 allowing everyone who wishes to go back to school campuses. 

Graduation rites and other large events can be held for as long as minimum public health standards are implemented. 

The mayor gives businesses, offices, and establishments the discretion to create their own COVID-19 protocols.

Of unvaccinated individuals, Duterte said, “If ever they [unvaccinated] will be excluded in some establishments or gatherings because they’re unvaccinated, they should accept it as they opted for it.” – Rappler.com

Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.