Starting this Friday, November 5, 2021, Metro Manila will be under a more relaxed COVID-19 Alert Level 2, lifting outdoor restrictions previously imposed on children. Yes, this means minors, or those below 18-years-old, are now allowed to go outside.
"The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Thursday, November 4, 2021, approved the de-escalation of the National Capital Region to Alert Level 2. This shall take effect beginning tomorrow, November 5, 2021, until November 21, 2021," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
What's allowed for kids in areas under Alert Level 2
Here's a list of the services and services and establishments where children are allowed. These establishments can only operate at a maximum of 50% capacity indoors and 70% capacity outdoors:
- Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for basic education subject to prior approval of the Office of the President
- Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for higher education and for technical-vocational education and training
- Funfairs ("peryas") or kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides
- Visitor or tourist attractions such as libraries, archives, museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, plazas, public gardens, scenic viewpoints or overlooks, and the like
- Amusement parks or theme parks
- Venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers
- Recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, skating rinks, archery halls, swimming pools, and similar venues
- Cinemas and movie houses
- In-person religious gatherings; gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of the COVID-19 deceased
- Licensure or entrance/qualifying examinations administered by their respective government agency, and specialty examinations authorized by the IATF subject to the health and safety guidelines as approved by the IATF
- Dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols
- Personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those offering aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures, make-up services, salons, spas, reflexology, and other similar procedures including home service options, subject to the sector-specific protocols of the DTI
- Fitness studios, gyms, and venues for individual non-contact exercise and sports, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols. Provided that patrons/clients and workers/employees wear face masks at all times and that no group activities are conducted
- Film, music, and television production subject to the joint guidelines as may be issued by the DTI, DOLE, and the DOH
- Contact sports approved by the LGU where such games shall be held
- Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as in karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters
- Gatherings in residences with individuals not belonging to the same household
- Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE)
Outdoor restrictions on kids are lifted but safety precautions must remain
The looser alert level 2 is imposed on areas that record decreasing COVID-19 cases, as stated on the IATF guidelines. The downgrade also comes after the Philippine government expanded its pediatric vaccination program. Children aged 12 to 17 without comorbidities can now get vaccinated.
With the general population in the capital region now afforded more freedom to enjoy the outdoors, the public should keep in mind that the threat of COVID-19 remains.
On his social media post, infectious disease specialist and molecular biologist Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, M.D., DTM&H, FPCP, FIDSA, said that if we want to keep kids free to play and enjoy outside, then the public must continue to do their part to keep COVID-19 cases low. Wearing face masks and observing physical distancing must still be followed.
Salvana also encouraged parents to have their kids vaccinated if they could.
"Now that we've vaccinated most of the A2 and A3 population in NCR, the risk is much less. Kids can still get COVID-19, but they are much less likely to get severe disease if they get sick.
Want to keep the kids free? Let's keep cases low. And get them vaccinated if they're 12 and above. Play safe, kids!" Salvana said.
Read here to get tips on how to parents can lower the risk of their children getting COVID-19.