DOH: If Alert Level 1 implemented, public restrictions to be removed

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2022 12:16 PM | Updated as of Feb 12 2022 04:47 PM

MANILA (UPDATED)—The government is preparing to remove restrictions in public transport and business establishments in an apparent shift to a "new normal", if the country's pandemic situation improves in the coming days, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Saturday. 

Restrictions on public health and transportation will be lifted once the country shifts to a new normal system, in line with the protocol under Alert Level 1, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said. 

This means that public transport and establishments would be allowed to serve at capacity.

"’Pag nag-Alert Level 1 naman tayo 'yun ’yung ating pamantayan, that's our protocol, na ’yung restrictions talaga for establishments and public transport mawawala po 'yan," Vergeire said in a televised public briefing. 

"Kaya nga ang sinasabi natin, Alert Level 1 really is our new normal. Pero kailangan prepared po tayo lahat na ang mindset natin we would still be practicing the safety protocols kahit wala na pong restrictions sa ating mga pupuntahan." 

Vergeire, however, clarified that this did not mean that minimum public health protocols will no longer be followed, stressing the need for "self-regulation" as the health crisis persists. 

Under Alert Level 1, intrazonal and interzonal travel would be allowed despite age and comorbidity, according to the DOH website

All establishments and activities, meanwhile, will be permitted to operate "full on-site or venue/seating capacity," the DOH said. 

Face-to-face classes will also be subject for President Rodrigo Duterte's approval. Some elementary and high school students in Metro Manila returned to their classrooms last week. 

The resumption coincides with the start of the "expansion phase" of in-person classes in the National Capital Region (NCR), under which more schools have been allowed to conduct face-to-face sessions.

 ALERT LEVEL 1 IN METRO MANILA?

Vergeire said they are still monitoring the COVID-19 trends in Metro Manila before considering the looser alert level. 

She also emphasized that the region remains under moderate risk for the respiratory disease. 

NCR's average daily attack rate (ADAR) is at 10.5. ADAR is the number of new cases in a city or province over a two-week period, divided by the population of the city or province.

"Aside from vaccination na mataas sa NCR, kailangan makita rin natin na yung ating environment, ating establishments, ating eskwelahan, public spaces, work places, would be able to enable that environment kung saan magiging safe para sa ating mga kababayan na puntahan sila," she explained. 

During the same briefing, NEDA said they would support placing the capital region under Alert Level 1 only if the conditions are favorable.

"Siyempre kung kami ang tatanungin talagang kailangan. Mas gusto namin talaga na buksan pero ang gusto namin ay ang safe reopening, kasi kung halimbawa magbubukas ka nga tapos biglang magkaka-surge, mahirap ’yun, magiging unpredictable para sa mga negosyo," NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said.

The Philippines confirmed 3,788 new cases on Friday or less than 5,000 fresh infections for the 4th straight day. 

The country also has 91,147 active cases, as it reels from the impact of the more transmissible omicron variant. 

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