One More Quarantine Season to Know: What We Can & Cannot Do under Metro Manila’s ‘Alert Level 4’

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has recently put the National Capital Region (NCR) in General Community Quarantine Alert Level 4, implementing granular lockdowns across the region if need be, specifically in Metro Manila.

This is in response to the alarming rate COVID-19 has infected the nation’s capital, with daily tolls consistently amounting to over 20,000 new cases throughout the past few weeks. Although there’s nothing more we want than to freely go out again, we all need to do our part to ensure the virus spreads no further, while it’s the government’s responsibility to truly tackle this pandemic once and for all.

Of course, “Alert Level 4” is a completely new term to add onto our quarantine vocabularies, and many argue that it’s unnecessary to introduce new ones this deep into the pandemic. While the rest of the world enjoys the so-called “post-pandemic” world, the Philippines remains deep in the same issues we were facing this time last year: young students having their school experiences stripped away from them with remote learning, medical frontliners not getting the appreciation and respect (and compensation) they deserve from the government, and our leaders putting more focus on other, seemingly less urgent, matters.

But regardless of whether or not we agree with this new implementation, we need to follow it. So here’s a quick guide of what we can and cannot do in Metro Manila under Alert Level 4:

The Can’s

  • Outdoor dining at 30% of capacity,
  • Indoor dining at 10% of capacity (only for fully vaccinated patrons),
  • Personal care services (barbershops, hair spas, nail spas, and beauty salons) at 30% capacity if outdoors, 10% capacity if indoors (only for fully vaccinated patrons),
  • Religious gatherings at 30% outdoor capacity, and 10% indoor capacity,
  • Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 shall be limited to immediate family members.

The Can’ts

  • Persons below 18 years old and above 65 years old, those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities, or other health risks, and pregnant women are not allowed to leave their homes, except for obtaining essential goods and services and working in permitted industries and offices.
  • Indoor visitor and tourist attractions, including cultural sites,
  • Indoor venues for conferences and events,
  • Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, and live entertainment,
  • Outdoor and indoor amusement parks or theme parks,
  • Indoor recreational venues such as internet cafes, arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues,
  • Staycation,
  • All contact sports,
  • Other forms of personal care services, including home service.

On top of these general restrictions, local government units (LGUs) also have the authority to put certain areas under granular lockdown. This would limit mobility within high-infected areas for at least 14 days, with the exception of healthcare workers and returning or leaving overseas Filipino workers, who will be be considered as Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR) in areas under granular lockdown.

These areas put under granular lockdown will be aggressively tested, traced, and separated in the hopes of containing the virus and curbing transmission for 14 days, under the care of the local government unit.

This new system will be implemented from September 16-30, 2021.

Moreover, the DILG and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) also detailed the new quarantine classifications that will have 5 Alert Levels to determine the activities allowed in cities and/or municipalities.

  • Alert Level 1 – refers to areas wherein case transmission is low and decreasing, total bed utilization rate, and intensive care unit utilization rate is low.
  • Alert Level 2 – refers to areas wherein case transmission is low and decreasing, healthcare utilization is low, or case counts are low but increasing, or case counts are low and decreasing but total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate is increasing.
  • Alert Level 3 – refers to areas wherein case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at increasing utilization.
  • Alert Level 4 – refers to areas wherein case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate are high.
  • Alert Level 5 – refers to areas wherein case counts are alarming, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at a critical level.

That’s all the information currently out regarding the latest set of rules to follow in this new quarantine season.

Now that we’re approaching the holidays, it’s definitely a lot harder to stomach just staying indoors and watching people in other countries prepare for Halloween, Christmas, and the nearing New Year. But hopefully, this new wave of cases will calm down thanks to these protocols, and most importantly, a (hopefully) more focused and efficient response system from our state leaders.