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COVID-19 CRISIS

NCR under Alert Level 4 starting Sept. 16, 2021 —Año


The National Capital Region will be under Alert Level 4 starting September 16, the start of the implementation of granular lockdowns, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday.

“Alert Level 4 ang ipapatupad sa NCR [Alert Level 4 will be implemented in NCR],” Año said in an interview on GMA News’ Unang Balita.

Año said mayors in the NCR agreed to implement just one alert level as a whole. He said based on data analytics, five NCR areas are considered Alert Level 5 and two considered Alert Level 3. Most, however, are Alert Level 4.

"Ang gumawa ng kasunduan, iyong mga NCR mayors, na isang alert level lang, Alert Level 4, ang gagawin nila [NCR mayor agreed to have only one alert level, and that's Alert Level 4," he said.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos, in a Palace briefing, said curfew will also be shortened starting September 16 from the current 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Based on the government's new guidelines, areas under Alert Level 4 -- the second highest alert level in the new scheme -- are those with COVID-19 case counts that are high or increasing while total beds and ICU beds are at high utilization rate.

NCR at high-risk classification

In a statement, the Department of Health said the NCR would be placed under Alert Level 4 during the first week of the pilot implementation of the new guidelines.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the NCR is currently at high-risk case classification while intensive care utilization is also under high-risk classification.

Vergeire said the region has maintained a moderate risk two-week growth rate (TWGR) of 28% and high-risk average daily attack rate (ADAR) of 39.09 per 100,000 population.

The NCR also has a high-risk intensive care utilization rate at 77.58% while bed utilization is near high-risk classification at 69.58%, she added.

“During this time we must ramp-up active case finding, conduct risk-based testing using RT-PCR, and fast track vaccination among high-risk groups. There will also be intensified granular lockdowns from barangay down to the household level to contain transmission,” Vergeire said.

“We shall be regularly assessing the situation in the NCR to monitor changes in cases and utilization data as well as the implementation of the recommended strategies and activities aimed at [reducing] case transmission and hospital utilization during this policy shift pilot implementation.”

Allowed and not allowed

Those who are not allowed outside their residences under Alert Level 4 are:

  • persons below 18 years old,
  • those who are over 65 years of age,
  • those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities, or other health risks,
  • pregnant women

 

These individuals will only be allowed to go out to access or obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices.

Also under Alert Level 4, 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, meanwhile, are allowed under the alert level for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status, but shall be limited within the general area of their residence.

Under Alert Level 4, outdoor or al fresco dine-in services in restaurants and eateries will operate at maximum of30%  venue/seating capacity regardless of vaccination status.

On the other hand, 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.

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. 

Assistance

DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, meanwhile, said assistance will be given instantly to residents affected by granular lockdowns that may be implemented starting September 16.

In a message to GMA News Online, Malaya said local governments will provide food packs and other assistance for the first week.

For the second week, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will distribute food packs to concerned residents.

“Assistance is given instantly,” he said. 

According to officials, granular lockdowns could be implemented on a compound, street or building with high cases of infections.   —Joviland Rita and Virgil Lopez/KBK, GMA News