Metro Manila to be placed under Alert Level 4 starting Sept. 16

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 14) — Metro Manila will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) with Alert Level 4 for the second half of the month under the government's new quarantine scheme aimed at curbing COVID-19 cases while allowing businesses to reopen.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año announced this during his interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday, a day after the country's pandemic response task force released its updated guidelines on the COVID-19 alert level system with granular lockdowns which will be in place from Sept. 16 to 30.

"Ang Alert Level 4, ‘pag titignan natin, para siyang GCQ with higher restrictions. But ang kanyang pagkakaiba, dahil mas maraming ia-allow na economic activities, we will just focus on areas na critical zones na tinatawag natin. Ito ‘yung under ng granular lockdown," he explained.

[Translation: If we look at Alert Level 4, it's similar to GCQ with higher restrictions. But the difference is that we are allowing more economic activities, and we will just focus on areas which we call critical zones. These are the ones which will be under granular lockdown.]

Año also said the pilot implementation of the alert level system in the capital region will be assessed and it may be recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte for a possible nationwide implementation later on.

Under Alert Level 4, persons below 18 years old and over 65 years old, those with comorbidities, and pregnant women are not allowed to go out of their houses. However, they are permitted to go outside if they are buying essential goods or services or working in permitted industries.

Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, indoor leisure centers, gyms, recreational venues, gaming establishments, mass gatherings, meetings, and staycations will be prohibited.

Outdoor dine-in services, barbershops, hair spas, nail spas, beauty salons, and physical religious gatherings are allowed to operate for up to 30% of their outdoor seating capacity, regardless of vaccination status.

These establishments and services can also operate indoors for up to 10% capacity, but employees and customers must have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Año said customers who want to enter these establishments must present their vaccination cards.

Necrological services will be limited to immediate family members, with full compliance with the minimum health protocols.

Government agencies and instrumentalities must remain in full operation in these areas and must follow an on-site working capacity of at least 20% backed with work-from-home arrangements.

Intrazonal and interzonal travel for persons not required to remain at their residences may be allowed subject to the reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination.

Under the COVID-19 alert level system, the lowest Alert Level 1 will allow movement of persons in businesses and activities that fall under 3Cs — closed areas, crowded areas, and spaces that allow close contact.

The Health department is in charge of determining the alert level for the pilot areas, which must cover cities and municipalities. Año said Metro Manila mayors agreed to have a uniform alert level for the whole region for simpler implementation.

Areas that will be placed under the tightest Alert Level 5 will follow the protocols applicable to the enhanced community quarantine.

RELATED: EXPLAINER: What you need to know about the COVID-19 alert level system in NCR