(PNA photo by Robert Alfiler)

MANILA – The alert level system (ALS) initially piloted in Metro Manila will soon be implemented in other provinces starting October 20 until the end of the month.

In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque cited the drop in coronavirus cases and the improvement of healthcare utilization rate as reasons to expand the ALS.

Negros Oriental in Region 7 and Davao Occidental in Region 11 are eyed to be placed under Alert Level 4.

Cavite, Laguna and Rizal in Region 4-A; Siquijor in Region 7; Davao City and Davao del Norte in Region 11 will be under Alert Level 3.

Alert Level 2 will be placed over Batangas, Quezon Province, and Lucena City in Region 4-A; Bohol, Cebu City, Lapu-lapu City, Mandaue City, Cebu Province in Region 7; and Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur, and Davao Oriental in Region 11.

Under Alert Level 4, indoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms may operate at a 10 percent venue capacity while outdoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms may operate at a 30 percent venue capacity.

Indoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms in areas under Alert Level 3 may operate at a 30 percent venue capacity while outdoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms may operate at a 50 percent venue capacity.

Under Alert Level 2, indoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms may operate at a 50 percent venue capacity while outdoor dine-in services and fitness studios and gyms may operate at a 70 percent venue capacity.

Take-out and delivery will be allowed in all alert level statuses.

These on-site capacities will only be allowed for fully vaccinated individuals.

Should the expanded pilot implementation of the ALS be successful, Roque said it may be implemented on a nationwide basis.

"Ito naman po ay kabahagi pa rin ng pilot study. Kung mapapansin niyo po ilang rehiyon pa lamang ang na-include dito sa pilot study (This is still part of the pilot study. If you notice, only a few regions are included in the pilot study),” he said.

Metro Manila is currently under Alert Level 3 until October 31 amid the drop in Covid-19 infections in the region.

Roque also defended Metro Manila's downgrade to Alert Level 3 amid apprehensions raised by a group of doctors.

“Hindi tayo nakikipag-away sa mga doktor, pero ang importante po ikonsidera natin na sa larangan ng public health, kabahagi po 'yung pagkakaroon ng hanapbuhay para maiwasan ang pagkagutom (We are not trying to argue with doctors, but it is important to consider that in the field of public health, livelihood to prevent hunger is also part of it),” he added.

As of Monday, health authorities recorded 6,943 new infections, bringing the total number of active cases nationwide to 68,832.

Since the pandemic started last year, the Philippines recorded over 2.7 million Covid-19 cases. Of this number, 2.6 million are recoveries and 40,761 are deaths.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday ordered all unit commanders in Metro Manila to increase police visibility in public areas in Metro Manila.

PNP chief, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said this is in response to the Department of Health's (DOH) appeal for the continued observance of minimum health protocols amid a surge in the number of people in churches, malls, parks, and other areas on the first weekend of the relaxed restrictions.

Nauunawaan namin ang pagkabahala ng ating mga kasamahan sa Department of Health at sa medical community patungkol sa mga report na ipinakita kung saan nagdagsaan ang mga tao sa mga pasyalan, malls at iba pang mga lugar noong nakaraang weekend (We understand the concern of our colleagues in the Department of Health and the medical community regarding the reports that showed where people flocked to sights, malls and other places last weekend),” he added. 

In some parks and churches, it was observed that people failed to observe the protocols for their safety despite the repeated appeal of marshals. 

“While we in the PNP are happy with the country's seemingly gradual return to normalcy, this should not be a reason for us to be complacent and ignore health and safety protocols as this temporary happiness that we feel right now might result again in another long lockdown,” he added. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)