MANILA — The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 said on Friday it has partially lifted stay-at-home orders for children aged 5 and up in areas under the two loosest quarantine levels.
In a meeting on Thursday, the IATF "allowed children, ages 5 and above, under the risk classification of Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) and General Community Quarantine (GCQ), except those under heightened restrictions, to go to outdoor areas," said task force and Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque.
These outdoor areas "shall be limited to parks, playgrounds, beaches, biking and hiking trails, outdoor tourist sites and attractions as may be defined by the Department of Tourism, outdoor non-contact sports courts and venues, and al fresco dining establishments in the previously mentioned areas," he said in a statement.
"Mixed-use indoor/outdoor buildings and facilities such as malls and similar establishments are not included in the allowed outdoor areas for children," Roque added.
Children must be supervised by adults and observe minimum public health standards, including wearing of face masks and physical distancing, he said.
Local government units may raise the age restriction on children, "depending on the COVID-19 situation in their respective jurisdictions," said the Palace official.
Dozens of areas are under GCQ and MGCQ, the two loosest lockdowns in a 4-level scale, until the middle of July.
Among NCR Plus areas, Metro Manila, Rizal and Bulacan are under GCQ "with some restrictions" from July 1 to 15, while Laguna and Cavite are under GCQ "with heightened restrictions" during the same period.
The pandemic has battered the Philippine economy, triggering millions of job losses, prompting policy makers to call for the easing of lockdown measures to help boost domestic spending.
COVID-19 infection rates have fallen from a peak in March and April as more people get vaccinated, but officials have said some restrictions must be retained in and outside the capital region given the threat posed by new variants.
Schools in the country remain shut, social gatherings are still restricted and public transport services are operating below capacity.
The Philippines has recorded some 1.4 million coronavirus cases, the second highest tally in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.
But cases have dropped to roughly 30,000 a week since May, roughly half of the nearly 60,000 in some weeks in March and April, health ministry data showed.
Unlike other Southeast Asian neighbors, the Philippine has not yet detected community transmission of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
Authorities aim to vaccinate 58 to 70 million of the 109 million population to safely reopen the economy. At least 3 million people have been fully inoculated, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Authorities have given the greenlight for children aged 12 and above to be vaccinated, but not until other priority groups have been inoculated.