Abalos: Curfews in Metro Manila may be loosened as COVID-19 cases drop

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2021 05:20 AM

People wait for their food to be served at a food strip in Binondo, Manila on September 16, 2021, as restaurants reopen on the first day of the implementation of COVID-19 Alert Level 4 in the NCR. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
People wait for their food to be served at a food strip in Binondo, Manila on September 16, 2021, as restaurants reopen on the first day of the implementation of COVID-19 Alert Level 4 in the NCR. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—Curfews in the National Capital Region (NCR) could be adjusted, as COVID-19 cases have declined amid relaxed restrictions, the head of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Monday.

The matter will be among the guidelines set to be released by the Metro Manila Council (MMC) on Tuesday, MMDA chair Benhur Abalos said in a meeting with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and the cabinet streamed after midnight. 

"Baka i-adjust ng mga mayors ito gawa nang pababa na talaga ang mga kaso po rito,” Abalos said.

“Hopefully talagang merry Christmas na po tayo. Sana walang bagong variant na dumating.”

The current curfew is from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

The hours have been decreased to allow greater mobility in the NCR when the alert system was pilot-tested in mid-September.

The guidelines to be put out by the MMC, made up of the region’s mayors, will also cover cemetery operations during All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days — or Undas — on November 1 and 2.

Abalos said Metro Manila’s cities and municipality will have unified guidelines for the period.

“Di ko pa po natatapos ang resolution, pero iisa lang ang boses ng mga mayors dito,” he said.

Last year, cemetery visits during Undas were restricted to lower infection risk.

Some cities in the NCR such as Manila and Malabon have already banned visits for this year’s observance.

Abalos said the COVID-19 situation in Metro Manila has improved in the near-month-long pilot implementation of the alert level system. 

The alert level system Metro Manila has also seen granular or house and community-level lockdowns put in place by local governments. Metro Manila has been designated Alert Level 4.

Abalos favored those lockdowns and said they would continue.

He cited active cases in the NCR have gone down by nearly half, with 38,471 on September 16 at the beginning of the new alert level system to more than 17,000 at the beginning of October.

He added the reproduction rate has decreased from 1.25 in September to 0.61 by October 8, while the 2-week growth rate has already gone negative at -41.84 on October 9 from 24.33.

Occupancy rates for COVID patients in Metro Manila have also gone down, Abalos added.

These include isolation facilities (from 73% in Sept. 15 to 42% on Oct. 10), hotels (91% in Sept. 15 to 76% on Oct. 10), and temporary treatment centers (which went down over half from 76% to 32%).

Abalos also touted the current contact tracing ratio of 1 tracer per 16 people. 

Meanwhile, nearly 77% of Metro Manila residents or more than 7.5 million have been fully vaccinated, he added, saying that local governments in the NCR were on track to fully vaccinate 86% of the eligible population by November 10. 

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