Relaxing quarantine age restrictions in Metro Manila need mayors' nod - DOH


Posted at Jan 22 2021 04:24 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2021 09:37 PM

People wearing face masks and face shields wait to cross the street at a mall in Taguig City on December 24, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— Relaxing age restrictions in Metro Manila as part of further reopening the capital's economy will need approval from mayors, the Department of Health said Friday.

In a virtual press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said mayors would be consulted before relaxing the virus rule, which would allow certain age groups to go outside.

"Magkakaroon ng pag-uusap (There will be a discussion) among the Metro Manila mayors because as we know, situation here is different at (and we're at the) epicenter tayo," she said.

This, after the government's pandemic task force allowed minors aged 10 to 14 to go out of their homes in areas under modified general community quarantine.

Since the country's first COVID-19 infection was detected in January 2020, Metro Manila has logged over 218,000 cases, data from DOH as of Jan. 21 showed. The country has more than 507,000 coronavirus cases, of which over 10,000 patients have died.

The capital region and 7 other areas are under general community quarantine classification until the end of January. The rest of the country is under MGCQ, a looser quarantine status.

Vergeire said the rationale for relaxing age restrictions in parts of the country was to balance between health and economy after nearly a year into the crisis.

"Ang (The) rationale was we balance the economy with health as long as we continue to implement and comply with minimum public health standards," she said.

"Kahit anong age naman 'yang lumalabas (No matter what age), as long as (we are) compliant tayo, we are protected and we are assured na 'yong (that the) infection risk will be very low."

Watch more in iWantTFC  Video courtesy of the DOH

Meanwhile, Malacanang said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has carefully weighed all sides before resolving to ease age restrictions in areas under modified GCQ. 

"Filipino children have already stayed in their homes for 10 months now, and allowing those to leave their houses, especially on a weekend activity, is good for their physical, social and mental health," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement.

Roque added that the policy would be different from allowing the return of face-to-face classes.

"For one, physical distancing is difficult to implement in face-to-face classes given the size of classrooms vis-a-vis the number of students that are enrolled," he said.

"On the other hand, children who are allowed to go out on a weekend or during their free time (as online classes/modular learning are ongoing) will be with their parents and/or relatives. 

"It is family bonding and interaction is akin to a 'family bubble' since it is limited to family members — the same people they are with in their homes — thus it is safer."

Roque added that it will also promote the recovery of the country's economy. 

"As we said in numerous occasions, the government needs to balance both the re-opening of the economy and controlling the spread of the virus," he said.

"Rest assured that safeguards and health protocols would be strictly adhered."

Watch more in iWantTFC   Video courtesy of the DOH