MANILA — Metro Manila and 38 other areas from March 1 will shift to the loosest of five COVID-19 alert levels dubbed as the "new normal."
Malacañang on Monday reminded the public of the following guidelines that should be observed under Alert Level 1.
Well-fitted face masks shall be worn properly at all times, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
Exceptions include eating and drinking, participating in team and individual sports in venues where ventilation standards can be maintained, and practicing outdoor sports or exercise activities where physical distance can be maintained.
All private offices and workplaces, including public and private construction sites, may operate at full 100 percent capacity, consistent with national issuances on vaccination requirements for on-site work, said Nograles.
But he said offices "may continue to provide flexible and alternative work arrangements as deemed appropriate based on function or individual risk."
Agencies and instrumentalities of the government will also adhere to 100-percent on-site workforce. Off-site work is subject to rules from the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the President, Nograles said.
He said establishments are no longer required to set-up isolation facilities within the workplace.
For claiming sick leave, health benefits or other relevant processes, a medical certification may suffice provided it includes name of patient, severity of symptoms, diagnosis as probable or confirmed COVID-19, and date of end of quarantine, Nograles said.
The Palace official said individuals 18 years old and above will be required to present proof of full vaccination before participating in mass gatherings or entry into indoor establishments.
He said these include the following.
- In-person religious gatherings; gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of the COVID-19 deceased
- All indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants and eateries. For outdoor or al fresco dining and take out channels, no proof of full vaccination is required
- Indoor personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those offering aesthetic or cosmetic services or procedures, make-up services, salons, spas, reflexology and other similar procedures including home service options
- Fitness studios, gyms and venues for exercise and sports
- All indoor cinemas or movie houses operating at full capacity
- Meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibition events and permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers
- Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as in karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls and theaters
- Indoor ancillary establishments in hotels and other accommodation establishments
- Venues for election-related events
Asked to clarify if vaccination proof will be required for one to cast his vote in the May polls, Nograles said, "As it stands now, ang pinag-uusapan d’yan ngayon are pre-election day election-related activities."
(What we are talking about are pre-election day activities.)
He said Malacañang is coordinating with the Commission on Elections about rules for election day.
Public transportation in areas under Alert Level 1 shall be at full seating capacity, said Nograles. Use of acrylic and/or plastic dividers in public transportation shall not be required.
For public land transportation between an area with a higher alert level and an area under Alert 1, the lower passenger capacity rate will be implemented, Nograles said.
The use of the Safe, Swift and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) travel management system shall not be required for interzonal travel to areas under Alert 1, he added.
Health declaration forms or paper-based contact tracing shall not be required for all the agencies and establishments under Alert Level 1. Digital contact tracing such as the StaySafe.PH application is optional, Nograles said.
RT-PCR testing shall be recommended and prioritized for the elderly, persons with comorbidity, and health workers.
"Testing shall be optional for other groups not stated above. It shall not be recommended for asymptomatic close contacts unless symptoms will develop, and should immediately isolate regardless of test results. Instead, symptom monitoring is recommended," Nograles said.
Meanwhile, he said antigen tests shall be recommended only for symptomatic individuals and in instances wherein RT-PCR is not available.
The Hospital Infection Prevention and Control Committees (HIPCC) may implement testing protocols in health facilities for health workers and patients based on their assessment of risk and benefit.