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How the new COVID-19 alert levels and granular lockdowns work


The national government on Monday released its guidelines on the new alert level systems as policies for lockdown, which will have a pilot run in Metro Manila starting Sept. 16, 2021.

In a statement,  presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the guidelines will further help mitigate the spread of coronavirus variants.

"In this new classification framework, we proactively advocate the Principles of 3C’s (Closed, Crowded and Close Contact) Strategy, which shall be applied in Metro Manila starting September 16, 2021," said Roque.

Under the Inter-Agency Task Force guidelines, alert level systems will cover entire cities or municipalities, which will manage and minimize spread of infections.

Each city or municipality will be classified from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 5. It will be the Department of Health who will assign these alert level systems.

This is also different from granular lockdowns, which is defined as micro-level quarantine for areas classified as "critical zones" by the local government unit.

Here are rules for each alert level system:

Alert Level 1

For alert level 1, these are areas with low case transmission, bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate

Movement of people will be allowed except for  reasonable restrictions on activities and spaces that are closed, crowded, or enable close contact
Except for those located in areas under granular lockdowns, all establishments, persons, or activities, are allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at full on-site or venue/seating capacity provided it follows minimum health standards.

Alert Level 2

Alert Level 2 areas are those with low case transmission, health care utilization is low or case counts are low but increasing or case counts are low and decreasing but total bed and intensive care unit occupancy rate is increasing.

Movement of persons will be allowed except for reasonable restrictions. They must also be allowed to access essential goods and services or for work in permitted industries and offices.

Intrazonal and interzonal travel for persons not otherwise required to remain at their residences in the preceding paragraph may be allowed subject to the reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination.

Individual outdoor exercises shall be allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status.

Business establishments with Safety Seal Certifications will be allowed to operate at an additional ten (10) percentage points beyond the prescribed on-site or venue/seating capacity.

Agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall remain to be fully operational and shall adhere to at least 50% on-site capacity while applying work-from-home and other flexible work arrangements.

Except those under granular lockdowns, the following will be allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at a maximum of 50% on-site or venue/seating capacity:

  • Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and cultural shows and exhibits;
  • Indoor venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, events (MICE);
  • Indoor entertainment venues with live performers such as karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls, theaters, and cinemas;
  • Amusement parks or theme parks, funfairs/peryas, kid amusement, industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides;
  • Indoor recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues;
  • Indoor limited face to face or in-person classes, examinations, and other education-related activities at all levels;
  • Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments;
  • In-person religious gatherings;
  • Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19;
  • Social events such as but not limited to concerts and parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers, and gatherings at residences with any person outside of one's immediate household;
  • Indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as commissaries, restaurants, and eateries;
  • Indoor sports courts or venues, fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centers or facilities, and swimming pools;
  • Personal care services. It also includes establishments providing tanning services, body piercings, tattooing, and similar services.

Alert Level 3

Areas under alert level 3 are those with high case count and/or with increasing utilization rate for total beds and  intensive care units.

Movement of persons will also be allowed except for reasonable restrictions based on age and comorbidities. Provided, that they shall be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices.

Intrazonal and interzonal travel for persons not otherwise required to remain at their residences in the  may be allowed subject to the reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination.

Individual outdoor exercises shall be allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status.

Meanwhile, operations of (i) indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, and venues with live performers such as karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters, and (ii) outdoor and indoor amusement parks or theme parks, funfairs/peryas, kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides  will still be banned.

Agencies and instrumentalities of the government will operate at least 30% on-site capacity while applying work-from-home and other flexible work arrangements.

Except for granular lockdown areas, the following establishments will be allowed to operate at 30% capacity.

  • Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and cultural shows and exhibits;
  • Indoor venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, events (MICE);
  • Indoor recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls,
  • amusement arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues,
  • Indoor face to face or in-person examinations approved by the IATF;
  • Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments;
  • In-person religious gatherings;
  • Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals fo those who died of causes other than COVID-19;
  • Social events such as but not limited to concerts and parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers, motorcades, and gatherings at residences with any person outside of one's immediate household;
  • Indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as commissaries, restaurants, and eateries;
  • Indoor sports courts or venues, fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centers or facilities, and swimming pools;
  • Personal care services which include beauty salons, beauty parlors, medical aesthetic clinics, cosmetic or derma clinics, make-up salons, nail spas, reflexology, aesthetics, wellness, and holistic centers, and other similar establishments; acupuncture and electrocautery establishments, and massage therapy including sports therapy establishments. It also includes establishments providing tanning services, body piercings, tattooing, and similar services.

Alert Level 4

For areas under Alert Level 4, case counts high and/or increasing while total beds and ICU beds are at high utilization rate.

Those not allowed outside their residences are: (i) persons below eighteen (18) years old, (ii) those who are over sixty-five years (65) of age, (iii) those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities, or other health risks, and (iv) pregnant women; provided, that they shall be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices.

Intrazonal and interzonal travel for persons not otherwise required to remain at their residences may be allowed subject to the reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination.

Individual outdoor exercises shall be allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status but shall be limited within the general area of their residence, e.g. within the barangay, purok, subdivision, and/or village.

Outdoor or al fresco dine-in services in restaurants and eateries will operate at maximum of30%  venue/seating capacity regardless of vaccination status.

Indoor dine-in services may be allowed at a limited 10%  venue/seating capacity but will cater only to individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to their allowed outdoor or al fresco capacity. Their workers must also be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Personal care services limited to barbershops, hair spas, nail spas, and beauty salons will be allowed at a maximum of 30% venue/seating capacity if such services are conducted outdoors regardless of vaccination status.

These establishments are also allowed to operate at a limited 10% indoor venue/seating capacity but may only cater to individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to their allowed outdoor capacities.

Government agencies will operate at least 20% capacity while applying work from home arrangements.

In-person religious gatherings shall be allowed at a maximum of 30% venue/seating capacity if conducted outdoors regardless of vaccination status.

These gatherings may be allowed at a limited 10% venue/seating capacity but may accommodate only individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to their allowed outdoor capacities.

Provided, that pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, or other religious ministers and the assistants of these religious congregations have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 shall be allowed, provided that the same shall be limited to immediate family members, upon satisfactory proof of their relationship with the deceased and with full compliance with the prescribed minimum public health standards.

The following arrangements and establishments are also prohibited:

  • Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and cultural shows and exhibits;
  • Indoor venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, events (MICE);
  • Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, and venues with live
  • performers such as karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters;
  • Outdoor and indoor amusement parks or theme parks, funfairs/peryas, kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides;
  • Indoor recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues;
  • Indoor limited face to face or in-person classes, examinations, and other education-related activities at all levels, except those previously approved by the IATF and/or of the Office of the President;
  • Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments except as may be authorized by the IATF or the Office of the President;
  • Social events such as but not limited to concerts and parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers, parades, processions, motorcades, and gatherings at residences with any person outside of one's immediate household;
  • Indoor sports courts or venues, fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centers or facilities, and swimming pools;
  • All contact sports, except those conducted under a bubble-type setup as provided for under relevant guidelines adopted by the IATF, and approved by the LGU where such games shall be held;
  • Personal care services, which include medical aesthetic clinics, cosmetic or derma clinics, make-up salons, reflexology, aesthetics, wellness, and holistic centers, and other similar establishments; acupuncture and electrocautery establishments, and massage therapy including sports therapy establishments. It also includes establishments providing tanning services, body piercings, tattooing, and similar services. Home service for these activities are likewise not permitted; and
  • Specialized markets of the Department of Tourism such as Staycations.


However, except those located in areas covered by granular lockdowns, all other establishments, or activities not otherwise specified in Section 3(4) may be allowed to operate or be undertaken at 100% on-site or venue/seating capacity, provided they implement the minimum public health standards.

Alert Level 5

Alert level 5 areas are those with increasing case counts with critical utilization rate for intensive care units as well as COVID-19 beds.

Areas placed under Alert Level 5 shall observe the guidelines applicable to Enhanced Community Quarantine as provided for under the IATF Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, as amended.

Roque previously said the alert level system for COVID-19 response will be implemented while the national government will only enforce either enhanced community quarantine and general community quarantine for a whole region.—LDF, GMA News