MANILA - Government will slowly transition to the new normal or Alert Level 1, the Department of Health said Thursday as doctors expressed concern that it was easing restrictions too soon.
Face masks will be the last to go in transitioning to the new normal, according to Health spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
"The mindset would be we will transition. We're not going to open up sectors drastically...we need to be able to slowly transition into new normal. We need to go on and move on with our lives," she told ANC's Headstart.
An area must have at least 80 percent vaccination rate for the elderly and persons with comorbidities, in addition to the safety seal requirement for establishments, in order to deescalate to Alert Level 1, according to Vergeire.
"When we talk about Alert Level 1, we talk about our new normal. There will be no restrictions anymore regarding capacities indoor and outdoor. What will be retained would be minimum public health standards that would be practiced by all individuals," she said.
A fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine has "no added value for now," Vergeire said, citing studies from countries that have implemented it.
"Our experts said it’s better that we wait, what we need to focus on would be improvement on our primary vaccines especially in areas outside of NCR (National Capital Region)," she said.
The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated 60 million individuals, while 60.6 million others have been inoculated with an initial dose and 8 million booster shots have been administered as of Feb. 9, according to DOH data.
The health agency, meantime, issued an advisory that Filipinos who need the document for travel must update it on their new website to include the booster shot, Vergeire said.
"You will need this for local and international travel once it is institutionalized. It is used for our country to negotiate with other countries so our vaccination certificate is recognized in countries you go to," she said.