COVID-19

Metro Manila mayors want to bring back restrictions for kids

Pia Ranada
The mayors make an appeal to the national government after the detection of two local cases of the Delta variant in NCR

Metro Manila mayors asked the national government to reinstate mobility restrictions covering kids five years-old and above due to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases and the detection here of local cases of the feared Delta variant.

This appeal was relayed to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 19, by Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chief Benhur Abalos during the Chief Executive’s weekly pandemic-related public address.

“We voted earlier, the mayors discussed, we are asking the IATF, if possible, that the policy for 5-years-old kids can be suspended in Metro Manila because we have cases here and cases increased here,” said Abalos in Filipino.

Last Friday, July 16, the government announced the detection of 11 local cases of the Delta variant, two of which were said to be in Metro Manila.

Abalos said the mayors were unified in calling for the return of restrictions for kids, fearing that this age group could become “super spreaders,” especially since COVID-19 vaccines were still not being administered to them.

In early July, the national government allowed kids five-years-old and up to step outside of their homes and visit open-air public spaces in areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ, like Metro Manila.

In Navotas, a 24-hour curfew for minors was imposed again, as the Delta variant threatened to disrupt the region’s progress in overcoming the pandemic.

“Our barangays have already sent a list of areas we could open for children. Unfortunately, our cases have gone up; that’s why we needed to defer [the] implementation [of the national government’s policy],” Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco said on Monday.

Will Metro Manila revert to stricter community quarantine?

In the same meeting, Duterte expressed concerns about the Delta variant and said there may be a need to impose stricter measures if the variant spreads further.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, however, said that the Delta variant has not yet become the dominant variant being detected through genome sequencing.

But he emphasized the needed to continue enforcing health protocols and to keep sticking to quarantine rules for persons arriving from abroad.

Duque said the government was studying the inclusion of Thailand and Malaysia in the list of countries covered by a travel ban, another bid to prevent further spread of the Delta variant.

For now, the government has not yet decided to escalate the quarantine classification of Metro Manila, with the health department saying granular lockdowns may be enough for now as long as contact tracing and isolation of close contacts of Delta variant cases was done well. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.