‘Alert Level 4 by proxy’: Abalos defends mayors opting to keep NCR under Alert Level 3

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 11) — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority on Tuesday reiterated the preference of Metro Manila mayors to keep the capital region under Alert Level 3, noting behavior on the ground already reflects restrictions of a higher alert level.

“It's just Alert Level 4 by proxy,” MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos Jr. told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Tuesday, stressing both alert levels only differ in terms of maximum operational capacities when it comes to restrictions.

For instance, indoor restaurants are allowed to operate up to 30% capacity under Alert Level 3. Under Alert Level 4, only 10% is permitted but they can get an additional 10% capacity if they have Safety Seals, and another 20% if the area has a vaccination coverage rate of over 70%.

Pero kung titignan mo mga restaurants ngayon, halos di umaabot ng ganon e. Alas-7, alas-8 they close on their own. So ‘yung nangyayari sa Alert Level 4, nangyayari na ngayon even under Alert Level 3,” Abalos said.

[Translation: But if you look at restaurants now, they don’t even reach that (level) anymore. They close on their own by 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. So what’s happening under Alert Level 4 is already happening now even under Alert Level 3.]

The MMDA official also reported reduced foot traffic in malls and vehicular traffic in major thoroughfares in the past days, owing to Alert Level 3 restrictions.

Metro Manila mayors also passed a resolution restricting the movement of the unvaccinated while Alert Level 3 is in effect — a move Abalos says will further protect them from the highly infectious Omicron variant.

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“The endgame is that if you control mobility, ang sinasabi nila mawawala o makokontrol ang virus. But ano nangyayari ngayon? Even without going to Alert Level 4 or lockdown, people by themselves self-regulate kaya nakatutuwa. I congratulate those from Metro Manila,” Abalos said.

[Translation: The endgame is that if you control mobility, what they’re saying is that the virus will go away or be controlled. Btu what is happening now? Even without going to Alert Level 3 or lockdown, people by themselves self-regulate which is good.]

Metro Manila is currently under Alert Level 3 until Jan. 15.