Metro Manila eases to Alert Level 3 until end-October

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 13)— Metro Manila will shift to a more relaxed alert level status for the second half of October, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

In an advisory, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) approved the recommendation to downgrade the capital region from Alert Level 4 to 3 from Oct. 16 to 31.

Guidelines for Alert Level 3

Under Alert Level 3, intrazonal and interzonal travel shall be allowed “subject to reasonable restrictions based on age and comorbidities” as determined by local government units.

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

The following establishments and activities shall likewise be allowed under Alert Level 3 (maximum of 30% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 50% outdoor venue capacity):

The following areas and activities, on the other hand, shall still be prohibited due to the continued coronavirus threat:

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) earlier expressed hope that the government will consider the easing of the alert level status in the region to further open up the economy, especially with the Christmas season coming up.

The MMC cited a decline in COVID-19 cases — something the OCTA Research group had echoed in the past days.

RELATED: OCTA elated at 'very fast' decrease in COVID cases in NCR

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) welcomed the development, but said this may not be enough to bring a significant change to the profitability of businesses.

"You have fully vaccinated employees and fully vaccinated clients, why not just open it up instead of imposing certain restrictions on capacity?" PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico told CNN Philippines' The Final Word.

"So it's either you open it up or the businesses continue to lose money, which they have been doing for the past two years - losing money," he added.

Yujuico also said allowing more economic activity will also mitigate other problems that the country faces - like rising prices of commodities.

He called on national authorities and the government's pandemic task force to establish a middle ground between lives and livelihood.

"It's really bad to die of COVID, but to die of hunger because of unemployment and lack of salary is even worse," he said. "So I think the better choice is let us open the economy safely, and let us learn how to live with COVID."

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David told CNN Philippines earlier in the day that Metro Manila tallied an average of 1,933 daily cases from Oct. 5 to 11, the lowest seven-day average since July 31-Aug. 6, or the week before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was implemented.

Other quarantine classifications

The following areas meanwhile, will be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine for the same period: Apayao, Kalinga, Batanes, Bulacan, Bataan, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, Naga City, Zamboanga City, and Zamboanga del Norte.

Under general community quarantine with heightened restrictions are the following: Abra, Baguio City, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, City of Santiago, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Quezon, Batangas, Bacolod City, Capiz, Lapu-Lapu City, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City, Davao del Norte, Davao Occidental, Davao de Oro, Butuan City, and Surigao del Sur.

The IATF also approved placing these localities under regular GCQ: Ilocos Norte, Dagupan City, Ifugao, Benguet, Tarlac, Lucena City, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa, Marinduque, Albay, Camarines Norte, Aklan, Antique, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Iloilo City, Iloilo Province, Cebu City, Cebu Province, Mandaue City, Siquijor, Tacloban City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Iligan City, Davao City, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Cotabato City, and Lanao del Sur.

The rest of the country will be under modified general community quarantine.