The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has approved the amendments to the Guidelines on the Nationwide Implementation of Alert Level System for COVID-19 Response.
This, after the IATF also approved on last February 27 placing the National Capital Region and 38 other areas under Alert Level 1 from March 1 to 15.
Under Alert Level 1, the IATF said there are no restrictions in terms of indoor and outdoor capacities. Everyone can undertake intrazonal and interzonal travel without regard to age and even comorbidities.
Part One lists below are some of the protocols to be observed under Alert Level 1.
Well-fitted face masks shall be worn properly at all times, whether outdoors or in indoor private or public establishments, including in public transportation by land, air or sea, except when eating and drinking, participating in team and individual sports in venues where ventilation standards can be maintained, and practicing outdoor sports/exercise activities where physical distance can be maintained.
All private offices and workplaces, including public and private construction sites, may operate at full 100% capacity, consistent with national issuances on vaccination requirements for on-site work. However, they may continue to provide flexible and alternative work arrangements as deemed appropriate based on function or individual risk.
Agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall likewise adhere to 100% on-site workforce. Off-site work shall be under such work arrangements subject to relevant rules and regulations issued by the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the President.
On the other hand, public transportation in areas under Alert Level 1 shall be at full seating capacity.
For intrazonal and interzonal travels involving public land transportation between an area with a higher alert level classification and an area under Alert Level 1, the passenger capacity shall be that which has the lower passenger capacity rate between the point of origin and point of destination.
For aviation, maritime and rail public transport operating in and out of Alert Levels 1 areas, the passenger capacity will be at 100%.
The use of acrylic and/or plastic dividers in public transportation shall not be required. The use of the Safe, Swift and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) travel management system shall likewise not be required for interzonal travel to areas under Alert Level 1.
On contact tracing, the use of health declaration forms / paper-based contact tracing shall not be required for all the agencies and establishments under Alert Level 1. On the other hand, the use of digital contact tracing such as the StaySafe.PH application is optional for all the agencies and establishments.
On testing prioritization, testing protocols shall be implemented, consistent with national guidelines, for individuals who are unvaccinated or have higher exposure risk pursuant to IATF Resolution No. 148-B and No. 149, s. 2021. In addition, testing using RT-PCR shall be recommended and prioritized for: Priority Groups A2 (persons above 60 years old) and A3 (persons with comorbidities) and Priority Group A1 or healthcare 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. Should testing still be used, testing should be done at least 5 days from the day of last exposure.
Testing shall also not be recommended for screening asymptomatic individuals. Meanwhile, testing using antigen tests shall be recommended only for symptomatic individuals and in instances wherein RT-PCR is not available, consistent with previously issued guidelines.
Bong Go calls for continued vigilance despite declining COVID-19 cases; urges gov’t to thoroughly assess alert levels
Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go has urged the government to thoroughly study the suggested downgrade of Metro Manila and other parts of the country to Covid-19 Alert Level 1, as he reiterated the need for continued vigilance amid the pandemic.
In a recent statement issued, Go highlighted the lessons learned in the country’s fight against the pandemic. He noted how the number of Covid-19 cases continues to decline as the government has ramped up its efforts to strengthen the healthcare system and ensure accessibility of the vaccines to the public.
“Marami na tayong natutunan at nalampasang mga pagsubok sa ating pakikipaglaban sa pandemya sa nakalipas na dalawang taon. Patuloy na ngayong bumababa ang mga kaso ng COVID-19 at tumataas naman ang bilang ng mga bakunado sa bansa,” said Go.
“Kasabay nito ang walang tigil na pagpapalakas ng kapasidad ng ating healthcare system upang maging mas accessible sa lahat ng nangangailangan at mas handa sa anumang krisis pangkalusugan na maaaring dumating pa,” he added.
Despite these considerable feats, the senator reminded the public not to get complacent as the threat of the virus remains.
Covid-19 Alert Level 2 is in effect in Metro Manila until February 28. Some health experts and the business community agree that the status of the National Capital Region should then be deescalated to Alert Level 1.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, according to the Department of Health, will consider reverting to Alert Level 1 by the end of February. DOH has subsequently stated that Filipinos will have to “move on and live with the virus.”