Alert level system expansion still under study: Palace

    THE government is still studying the possible expansion of the current alert level system to different parts of the country and determining if the current scheme being pilot tested in the National Capital Region (NCR) is really effective and doable in other areas, Malacanang said yesterday.

    Last Wednesday, the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases lowered the alert level in Metro Manila – from 4 to 3 – following the decrease in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and reduction in hospital and intensive care (ICU) unit bed occupancy.

    But Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said despite the new alert level and improved COVID-19 situation in Metro Manila, it is too early to conclude the alert level system is really effective.

    Roque said the downgrading of the hospital care utilization rate to moderate risk and the reduction in daily attack rate and two-week attack rate to moderate risk levels only resulted in the lowering of alert level in Metro Manila to Alert Level 3 from October 16 to 31.

    “That will happen (implementation in other parts of the country) if we arrive at a conclusion that the alert level system being implemented is effective,” he said in a television interview.

    Metro Manila was placed under Alert level 4 from September 16 to 30, that was then extended to October 1 to 15.

    The Metro Manila Council yesterday appealed to NCR residents to stay vigilant despite the lowering of the alert level.

    Under Alert Level 3, movement of persons shall be allowed except for reasonable restrictions based on age and comorbidities, while individual outdoor exercises shall be allowed for all ages, regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status.

    Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for higher education and for technical-vocational education and training shall also be allowed while conduct of licensure or entrance/qualifying examinations administered by different government agency, and specialty examinations authorized by the IATF shall be allowed at 30 percent venue capacity and subject to the health and safety guidelines as approved by the IATF.

    In-person religious gatherings and gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremation of the COVID-19 deceased are allowed up to a maximum of 30 percent indoor venue capacity; while some establishments such as dine-in services in food preparation establishments and personal care services like barbershops, hair salons and spas, and those offering aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures, are allowed to operate at a maximum of 30 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity provided that all workers/employees of these establishments are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Department of Social Welfare and Development Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova, during the Laging Handa public briefing, said 45,775 family food packs worth P27.69 million have been provided by the department to families affected by granular lockdowns in NCR since September.

    Relova assured the public that the DSWD still has P1.05 billion worth of funds that it could tap to assist those who would be affected by future lockdowns, including the possible expansion of the alert level system to the entire country, as well as other emergencies and calamities.

    Roque said the IATF is reviewing and revising its current list of “green” countries or the nations and jurisdictions that are classified as low risk based on COVID-19 incidence rate and case count.

    He said the current green list does include countries that are more popular to Filipinos.

    Under the current guidelines, travelers coming from these countries are provided some incentives such as shorter quarantine days. – With Noel Talacay