Metro Manila under GCQ with Alert Level 4 starting September 16

Metro Manila will be placed under the second highest alert level under general community quarantine (GCQ) when the region shifts to an experimental lockdown scheme on Thursday, September 16.

"Ang gumawa ng kasunduan, iyong mga National Capital Region mayors, na isang alert level lang, Alert Level 4, ang gagawin nila, at magtutulong-tulong sila para mapababa iyong numero," Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said in a television interview with GMA News on Tuesday, September 14.

(Mayors decided that there will be one alert level, which is Alert Level 4. They will help each other to lower that.)

The Department of Health (DOH) echoed the DILG in a statement later on Tuesday.

“NCR is currently at high risk case classification as it maintains a moderate risk two-week growth rate and high risk average daily attack rate," said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire

"Additionally, NCR has a high-risk intensive care utilization rate at 77.5% while bed utilization is near high-risk classification at 69.5%," she added.

Under guidelines released by the Philippines' coronavirus task force on Monday, September 13, the following is prohibited under Alert Level 4:

  • Travel for minors, senior citizens aged 65 and above, persons with comorbidities, and pregnant women.

The following are also prohibited from resuming their operations:

  • Libraries, archives, museums, galleries, cultural shows, and exhibits
  • Indoor venues for meeting, incentives, conferences, and events
  • Cinemas
  • Karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters
  • outdoor and indoor amusement parks
  • Internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues
  • Indoor limited face-to-face classes, except those previously approved by the national government
  • Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting
  • Social events such as concerts and parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers, parades, processions, motorcades, and gatherings at residences with any person outside one's immediate household
  • Fitness studios, gyms, spas, or other indoor leisure centers or facilities, and swimming pools
  • All contact sports, except those conducted under a bubble-type setup approved by the LGU
  • Medical aesthetic clinics, cosmetic or derma clinics, make-up salons, reflexology, aesthetics, wellness, and holistic centers
  • Acupuncture and electrocautery establishments
  • massage therapy including sports therapy establishments (home service not permitted)
  • Staycations

The following are allowed:

  • Interzonal and intrazonal travel for people not required to stay at home
  • Individual outdoor exercises for all ages regardless of vaccination status, but shall be limited within area of residence
  • Al-fresco dine-in services at 30% capacity
  • Indoor dine-in services at 10% capacity, but only for the fully vaccinated
  • Outdoor personal care services (barber shops, hair spas, nail spas, and beauty salons) at 30% capacity
  • Indoor personal care services at 10% capacity, but only for the fully vaccinated
  • Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, or funerals for those who died from causes other than COVID-19

The IATF said all other establishments not specified may be allowed to operate at 100% onsite capacity.

Granular lockdowns

The new lockdown scheme will see local government units (LGUs) maximize the implementation of small-scale or granular lockdowns.

Under the new guidelines, granular lockdowns will be enforced in a certain area for at least 14 days.

Only health workers and uniformed personnel "shall be allowed to move within, into, and out of the area under granular lockdown," the guidelines read.

But Año appealed to hospitals and LGUs to provide temporary shelter to their workers.

"Ang ating pakiusap sa hospitals at LGUs, bigyan muna ng ibang tirahan ang healthcare workers habang naka-lockdown para hindi na sila lalabas-papasok," he said.

(Our request to hospitals and LGUs is to offer temporary accommodation to healthcare workers so they won't have to enter and leave areas under granular lockdown.)

The following shall be given permission to enter and leave granular lockdown areas for specific reasons:

  • Overseas Filipino workers bound for international travel, and those returning to respective residences
  • Those who live within the area under granular lockdown and wish to stay there for its duration
  • Those seeking urgent medical attention
  • People delivering food and essential items

Households affected by the granular lockdown will be given food stubs, Año said.

Metro Manila is struggling to contain the highly infectious Delta variant, with active COVID-19 cases in the region topping 51,000 as of Monday, September 13.

The new lockdown scheme comes amid the government's experiment to find the right balance between reopening the economy and prioritizing public health. – Rappler.com