MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will base its decision on the new alert level classifications in the country after March 15 on the “latest” coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and alert level matrix.
In a virtual presser, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson and Communications Undersecretary Michel Kristian Ablan said the IATF is being careful in further easing the restrictions in the country, despite the continued drop in Covid-19 infections.
Ablan issued the statement a day after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III raised the possibility that the alert level status in some parts of the country might be downgraded to “Alert Level 0".
The IATF, Ablan said, is still monitoring the overall Covid-19 situation in the country.
“Masusi at dahan-dahan nating binubuksan ang ekonomiya kaalinsabay sa pagpapabilis ng pagbabakuna sa ating mga kababayan (We are carefully and gradually reopening the economy, alongside the speedy vaccination of our fellow countrymen). Nandiyan pa rin po ang ating IATF (Members of the IATF is still there), and they are constantly monitoring the situation,” he said.
Ablan said the IATF’s decision would be announced before March 15.
“Maghihintay po tayo bago mag-March 15 para i-release ng IATF ‘yung kanilang desisyon sa alert level (Let’s wait for the IATF to release their decision on the new alert level classifications before March 15), knowing and being conscious that they are trying to use the latest data and metrics to make the right decision,” he said.
Duque on Thursday said the task force will study the metrics and the elements for the possible de-escalation of Covid-19 alert level classification in several parts of the country to Alert Level 0.
Metro Manila and 39 other areas in the country have been placed under Alert Level 1 for the first half of March.
Under Alert Level 1, movement of persons regardless of age and comorbidities is allowed, but with restrictions on crowded and closed spaces and close contact settings. Private establishments and government agencies are also allowed to operate as at full on-site capacity subject to minimum public health standards.
Ablan said the IATF-EID, in its Resolution 164 approved Thursday, also rescinded Section E(3) of its Resolution 101 issued on Feb. 26 to pave the way for the full seating capacity for public transportation in Metro Manila.
Section E(3) of IATF-EID Resolution 101 prohibits bus companies to use their private terminals and requires all buses bound for provinces to use the Integrated Terminal Exchange as the central hub for transportation.
Following the revocation of Section E(3) of IATF-EID Resolution 101, all buses in Metro Manila bound for provinces will no longer be required to use the Integrated Terminal Exchange as the central hub for transportation starting March 22, Ablan said.
Ablan said the IATF-EID also approved the recommendation of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to conduct limited face-to-face (F2F) classes for higher educational institutions (HEIs) operating in areas under Alert Level 1.
HEIs, Ablan said, must take self-assessment checklists and operate under self-reopening before they conduct in-person classes.
Ablan said only fully-vaccinated teaching and non-teaching personnel, and students will be allowed to participate in the limited in-person classes.
Under IATF-EID Resolution 164, unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated students shall continue under flexible learning modalities.
"On classroom capacity, the allowable seating capacity in classrooms of HEIs in areas under Alert Level 1 is at a maximum of 100 percent capacity,” the resolution read. “On the operations of student dormitories, there will be no restriction as to the operation, however, the HEI should coordinate with the LGU (local government unit) concerned before opening.” (PNA)