EXPLAINER: What you need to know under Alert Level 1

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 1) – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases released amended guidelines for Alert Level 1, where Metro Manila and 38 other areas will be starting March 1.

RELATED: Metro Manila, 38 other areas will ease to Alert Level 1 on March 1 

Persons in Alert Level 1 areas are still required to wear face masks at all times, except when eating and drinking, participating in team and individual sports in well-ventilated venues, and practicing outdoor sports/exercise activities where physical distancing can be maintained.

Establishments and activities

The new IATF Alert Level 1 guidelines also permit all private offices and workplaces, including public and private construction sites, and government agencies and instrumentalities to operate at full capacity in compliance with national rules on vaccination requirements for on-site work.

Meanwhile, government agencies and instrumentalities shall “adhere to a 100% on-site workforce.”

Flexible and alternative work arrangements are still allowed in workplaces, as deemed appropriate based on function or individual risk. Malacañang said that should there be off-site work in government offices, this would be subject to relevant rules and regulations issued by the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the President.

Individuals aged 18 and above are required to present proof of full vaccination upon entry into establishments and before participating in mass gatherings. Children aged 17 and below are not required to present proof of vaccination status.

Gatherings covered in this rule are necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of a deceased COVID-19 patient.

Establishments such as indoor dine-in outlets, hotels and other accommodation businesses, barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, nail spas, those who are offering other aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures including home services, fitness studios, gyms, and other venues for exercise and sports must require proof of full vaccination before entry.

Proof of full vaccination is not required on establishments offering outdoor or al-fresco dining.

Also part of the directive of presenting full vaccination proof before entry are Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibition (MICE) events and 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.

Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters must also require proof of full vaccination to allow entry.

Venues of election-related events must also require all its attendees to show proof of full vaccination.

Public transportation

Land, aviation, maritime, and rail public transport in all places under Alert Level 1 are permitted to have a full seating capacity.

The use of acrylic or plastic dividers in public transportation and the Safe, Swift and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) application are not required for interzonal travel in Alert Level 1 areas.

For those travelling from an Alert Level 1 area to a place with a higher level classification using public land transportation, the government says passenger capacity must be "that which has the lower passenger capacity rate between the point of origin and point of destination."

Contact tracing

The new government guidelines for Alert Level 1 areas provide that the use of health declaration forms or other paper-based contact tracing avenues are not required for all the agencies and establishments under Alert Level 1.

Digital contact tracing forms such as the StaySafe.PH application is optional for all agencies and establishments.


Testing protocols will be implemented for unvaccinated persons or those who have higher exposure risk.

The use of the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test will be prioritized for healthcare workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities. For those outside these priority groups, RT-PCR testing shall be optional.

The use of RT-PCR test is also not recommended for screening patients without symptoms as well as their close contacts unless symptoms develop, as they are ordered to immediately isolate regardless of test results.

Testing should be done at least five days from the day of last exposure, the new rules said.

Antigen tests are recommended only for symptomatic individuals and in instances where RT-PCR test is unavailable, consistent with previously issued guidelines.

The Hospital Infection Prevention and Control Committees are tasked to implement testing protocols in health facilities for healthcare workers and patients based on their assessment of risk and benefit.

Isolation and quarantine

Under Alert Level 1, establishments are no longer required to set-up isolation facilities within the workplace.

Moreover, healthcare workers and the general public who are asymptomatic close contacts are no longer required to undergo quarantine as long as they are fully vaccinated.

“Para sa Alert Level 1 areas, kapag kayo ay asymptomatic, ibig sabihin walang sintomas, close contact kayo ng isang positibong individual at kayo ay fully vaccinated, wala na pong kailangan o zero days for quarantine,” said Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire in a press briefing.

[Translation: For Alert Level 1 areas, if you are asymptomatic, meaning you don’t have symptoms, you're a close contact of a positive individual and you're fully vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine.]

“Pero kailangan niyo mag-self-monitor. Kung sakaling makakaramdam kayo ng sintomas, mag-isolate agad, tawagan ang local government kung ano ang kailangan gawin,” she added.

[Translation: You still need to self-monitor. If ever you experience symptoms, isolate yourself immediately and call the local government on what to do.]

Meanwhile, those who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated should quarantine for 14 days since exposure.


Close contacts, patients with no symptoms, and mild to moderate confirmed cases will be managed at the primary care level. These include health centers, face-to-face consultation on private clinics, and teleconsultation.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases with severe and critical symptoms should be brought to an appropriate health care facility.

In case of reintegration, isolation can be discontinued upon completion of the recommended period. Patients who wish to do this must not have a fever for at least 24 hours without the use of any antipyretic medications and have improvement of respiratory signs and symptoms.

For those who are claiming sick leave, health benefits, or other relevant processes where the proofs of COVID-19 diagnosis are needed, the rules said that a medical certification may suffice. The medical certificate must have the name of patient, severity of symptoms, diagnosis as probable or confirmed COVID-19 case, and date of end of quarantine and/or isolation period.

Election-related activities

Based on Commission on Elections rules, campaign gatherings under Alert Level 1 are allowed to fill indoor or outdoor venues up to 70% capacity.

Full seating capacity in vehicles joining motorcades is also permitted, provided that only candidates or campaign supporters who come from the same household share a ride.

As of Feb. 28, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body has not yet received any formal request to relax its campaign guidelines, so the current rules will remain in place.

There will still be no handshakes, hugs, kisses, taking of selfies, or any similar activity requiring close proximity between candidates and other people. Poll bets are also banned from entering homes even with the consent of residents. Some national candidates have blasted these rules, saying it deprives them of the chance to get closer to voters.

Masks must also be worn at all times, while face shields are no longer mandatory.