Govt expands alert level system

Asia's Tech News Daily

STARTING Wednesday, October 20, the government will expand the implementation of its alert level system initially piloted in Metro Manila to other provinces, Malacañang announced on Tuesday.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) decided to expand the alert level system to several areas amid a drop in Covid-19 cases and the improvement of the health care utilization rate.

“Mula bukas, October 20, ay in-expand na po ang alert level system sa labas ng Metro Manila (Starting tomorrow, October 20, the alert level system will be expanded outside Metro Manila),” Roque said.

Negros Oriental in Region 7 and Davao Occidental in Region 11 will be placed under Alert Level 4, while Cavite, Laguna and Rizal in Region 4A, Siquijor in Region 7, and Davao City and Davao del Norte in Region 11 will be under Alert Level 3.

Alert Level 2 will be raised over Batangas and Quezon province and its capital Lucena City in Region 4A; Bohol, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City and Cebu province in Region 7; and Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental in Region 11.

The alert level classification will last until October 31.

Roque, also the spokesman for the IATF, added that the implementation of the alert level system outside Metro Manila is part of the government’s pilot testing of the scheme.

He noted that the government will only implement the system nationwide if it is already proven effective.

“Ito naman po ay kabahagi pa rin ng pilot study. Kung mapapansin niyo po ilang rehiyon pa lamang ang na-include dito sa pilot study (This is still part of the pilot study. If you notice, only a few regions are included in the pilot study),” Roque said.

“Pero sabihin natin ‘yung pagbaba ng mga kaso at pag-improve ng health care utilization rate ay parang may kinalaman dun po sa alert level system na in-adopt natin sa Metro Manila, dahilan para palawigin pa natin ‘yung ating pilot implementation (But we can say the decline in Covid-19 cases and the improvement of the health care utilization rate in Metro Manila under the alert level system we adopted could be the reason why we expanded the pilot implementation),” he added.

The pilot implementation of the alert level system started in Metro Manila on September 16.

The NCR shifted to a more relaxed Alert Level 3 starting October 16, and it will end on October 31.

Compared to community quarantine, the alert level system allows more business establishments to operate but with a limited capacity.

Under Alert Level 4, indoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms may operate at a 10 percent venue capacity while outdoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms may operate at a 30 percent venue capacity.

Indoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms in areas under Alert Level 3 may operate at a 30 percent venue capacity while outdoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms may operate at a 50 percent venue capacity.

Under Alert Level 2, indoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms may operate at a 50 percent venue capacity while outdoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms may operate at a 70 percent venue capacity.

Take-out and delivery will be allowed in all alert level statuses.

These on-site capacities will only be allowed for fully vaccinated individuals.

Meanwhile, Roque defended Metro Manila’s downgrade to Alert Level 3 amid apprehensions raised by a group of doctors.

“Hindi tayo nakikipag-away sa mga doktor, pero ang importante po ikonsidera natin na sa larangan ng public health, kabahagi po ‘yung pagkakaroon ng hanapbuhay para maiwasan ang pagkagutom (We are not trying to argue with doctors, but it is important to consider that in the field of public health, livelihood to prevent hunger is also part of it),” he said.

As of Tuesday, health authorities had recorded 4,496 new infections, bringing the total number of active cases nationwide to 63,737.

With the downgrading of the alert level in Metro Manila, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) is set to recommend to the IATF an increase in passenger capacity in public utility vehicles (PUVs).

“Irerekomenda po ng Kagawaran ng Transportasyon ang pagtaas ng passenger capacity sa ating mga PUVs to cope with the increased number of individuals using public transport due to the imposition of a more relaxed quarantine status,” Steve Pastor, DoTr assistant secretary for road transport and infrastructure, said.

Pastor was joined in the media briefing by Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Martin Delgra 3rd and Land Transportation Office Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante.

He said raising the number of PUV passenger capacity from the current maximum capacity of 50 percent as mandated by health protocols will not only help commuters but also PUV drivers and operators.

“We are looking at increasing the seating capacity in public transportation. It is an answer to the rising costs experienced by operators and, at the same time, this will also address an appeal from the business sector to grow economic activities. We can contribute to that through an increase in public transportation capacity,” Pastor added in English and Filipino.

While the increase in PUV vehicle passenger capacity in Metro Manila will be significant under Alert Level 3, according to him, he assured that the proposal to be submitted to the IATF will be based on both technical and medical studies.

In the meantime, Pastor said, the DoTr will continue its monitoring of passenger capacity in PUVs amid the pandemic.

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