The government has been recommended to upgrade to alert level 4 since the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases hit a new high of 26,458 on January 9, 2022.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), the latest figure surpasses the 26,303 cases registered in September 2021.
Dr. Rontgene Solante, a member of the country’s Vaccine Expert Panel, said the highly contagious Omicron strain of the virus has been sustained in the population, prompting him to urge a higher alert level in places where transmission is strong.
The government has shifted its focus to localizing its pandemic response, according to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., who said the government is “enhancing our barangay Covid system and educating our people on self-management and exercising their individual social responsibility of protecting themselves, their families, and communities.”
Galvez, the National Task Force Against Covid-19’s chief implementer, said at a virtual briefing on Saturday that this is in addition to the national government, regional-level agencies’, and local government units’ efforts to inoculate the unvaccinated and expand the national vaccination program’s coverage.
Suggested Read: Omicron: What You Need to Know about the Latest COVID Variant
DOH Guidelines under Alert Level 4 in the Philippines
1. Intrazonal and interzonal travel shall be permitted subject to the reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination, except for those I under the age of eighteen (18), and (ii) belonging to the vulnerable population, namely those over sixty-five (65) years of age, those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities, or other health risks, and pregnant women, provided that:
- Those under the age of eighteen (18), and those belonging to the vulnerable population, namely those
- Individuals from the vulnerable group who are fully vaccinated and under the age of eighteen (18) years old are permitted to participate in the following activities:
- Individual outdoor workouts even beyond the general region of their respective houses; and
- Specialized markets of the Department of Tourism such as Point-to-Point Travel pursuant to the acceptable regulations of the LGU of destination and Staycations; As long as basic public health requirements and measures are followed, such as wearing face masks and adhering to social distancing rules.
2. Individuals who are fully vaccinated, including those from the vulnerable group, are entitled to participate in the activities listed in this section.
3. In regions classified as Alert Level 4, the following establishments and/or activities that are considered high-risk for transmission are not permitted to operate or be carried out:
- Face-to-face or in-person classes for basic education, unless approved by the IATF and/or the President’s Office;
- Face-to-face or in-person classes for higher education or technical, vocational education and training, unless approved by the IATF and/or the President’s Office;
- All contact sports, whether indoor or outdoor, unless approved by the IATF and/or the President’s Office;
- Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences, such as karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters;
- Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting, and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments, except as authorized by the IATF or the Office of the President; and
4. Provided that they have been awarded a Safety Seal Certification, the following establishments or activities may operate or be done at a maximum of 10% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 30% outdoor venue capacity.
Furthermore, all workers/employees of these establishments must be completely vaccinated against COVID-19, and minimal public health requirements must be adhered to. Provided, further, that the LGU where these activities are to take place does not object:
- Permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers;
- Visitor or tourist attractions such as libraries, archives, museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, plazas, public gardens, scenic viewpoints or overlooks, and the like;
- Amusement parks and theme parks; and
- Zoos and aquariums.
5. The following establishments or activities may operate or be carried out under alert level 4 with a maximum of 10% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 30% outdoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only.
Provided, however, that all of these establishments’ workers/employees are completely vaccinated against COVID-19 and that minimal public health standards are strictly adhered to. Provided, further, that the LGU where these activities are to take place does not object:
6. Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19, as well as for the cremains of COVID-19 deceased, shall be permitted, provided that they are limited to immediate family members and that they are in full compliance with the prescribed minimum public health standards.
7. Government agencies and instrumentalities must remain fully operational and maintain a minimum of 20% on-site capacity while implementing work-from-home and other flexible work arrangements.
Alert Levels in the Philippines as of Now
Metro Manila is currently on Alert Level 3 until January 15.
Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal, as well as their neighboring provinces, were placed on Alert Level 3 from January 3 to January 15, while Laguna was placed on the same alert level from January 7 to January 15.
Due to the escalating number of COVID-19 cases, fourteen more cities and provinces were placed on Alert Level 3 from January 9 to 15.
Several establishments are permitted to operate at 30 percent indoor venue capacity for properly vaccinated individuals only and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity if all personnel are completely vaccinated under Alert Level 3.
Under Alert Level 3, activities and establishments such as face-to-face classes, contact sports, funfairs/perya, and casinos are prohibited.
Government offices are only allowed to work at 60% of their onsite capacity.
Suggested Read: Will Omicron be the end of the Pandemic?
Update on the Omicron Variant
Meanwhile, according to Duque, the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau is still investigating if the Omicron variant is being transmitted locally.
Nonetheless, he claims that the government’s actions are already indicating that the Omicron variety is ubiquitous in the country.
The Philippines recorded 21,819 new COVID-19 cases on January 8, 2022, increasing the total number of cases to 2,910,664. With 21,411 instances, this is the largest number since September 12.
Suggested Read: New Quarantine Classifications: Guidelines on Granular Lockdown