THE Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, approved the adjustment of age-based stay-at-home restrictions.
Persons from 15 to 65 years old are now allowed to go out.
According to the IATF, local government units (LGUs) may impose a higher age limit for minors, depending on the Covid-19 situation in their respective jurisdictions.
Under Resolution No. 79, the IATF also updated the list of authorized persons outside their residences (Apor) to include returning or repatriated overseas Filipino workers and overseas Filipinos returning to their places of residence.
Also included are other persons transported through the efforts of the national government upon observance of the necessary quarantine protocols with the concurrence of the receiving LGUs.
Apor include health and emergency frontline services personnel, government officials and government frontline personnel, duly-authorized humanitarian assistance actors, persons traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons, persons going to the airport for travel abroad, and anyone crossing zones for work or business permitted in the zone of destination and going back home.
The task force also updated its definitions of interzonal movement and intrazonal movement.
Interzonal movement is defined as the movement of people, goods and services between provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities under different community quarantine classifications.
On the other hand, intrazonal movement refers to the movement of people, goods and services between provinces, highly urbanized cities and independent component cities under the same community quarantine classification, without transiting through an area placed under a different classification.
The IATF enjoined LGUs not to cover workers, Apor, and necessary establishments in the application of their curfew ordinances.
LGUs were also urged to coordinate among themselves to standardize curfew rules and relax curfew hours.
In Cebu City, Mayor Edgardo Labella said he will release an amendatory executive order adjusting the age restrictions for the stay-at-home order pursuant to the recently-released IATF guidelines.
However, Labella disagreed with the the new IATF guideline allowing interzonal and intrazonal movements of non-Apors to areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ (MGCQ).
Labella said border checkpoints will still be implemented despite the IATF guideline allowing interzonal and intrazonal movements.
Cebu City is under MGCQ until the end of October.
Labella said he will also continue to strictly prohibit sports activities that can draw a crowd.
Subject to conditions, the IATF approved the holding of a beach volleyball tournament by the Philippine Super Liga under a “sports bubble concept,” the operation of off-track horse race betting stations in areas under GCQ or lower, and the operation of licensed cockpits and the conduct of cockfighting activities in areas under MGCQ or lower.
“At this point, I am not inclined to issue, or allow it in the territorial jurisdiction of Cebu City,” said Labella.
In Lapu-Lapu City, Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan welcomed the IATF’s recent decision to allow persons from 15 to 65 years old to go out of their homes.
Chan said with the recent order, hotels, resorts and other tourism establishments in his city can now implement less stringent health and quarantine protocols when dealing with guests.
Chan earlier sought the IATF’s permission to allow minors and senior citizens to leave their homes with their families when visiting resorts or hotels in Lapu-Lapu City.
But Chan said even with the more relaxed quarantine protocols introduced by the IATF, he will continue to require all his constituents to carry a quarantine pass when leaving the house.
Minors and senior citizens whose families have booked accommodations in hotels and resorts in the city are exempted from carrying quarantine
The Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) welcomed the age adjustment, saying the IATF move would help in the recovery of businesses especially in the tourism sector.
“This will pave the way for our economy to bounce back. We also advise our members to not be complacent in terms of health protocols,” HRRAC president Carlo Suarez told SunStar Cebu.
Suarez said strict health protocols must always be in place to bring back customer confidence that remains low due to the fear of the virus.
For his part, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes called on constituents to observe discipline even though the IATF has relaxed its protocols.
“At the end of the day it is really not about who or what activities are allowed, but whether the people have the discipline to follow the prescribed guidelines and the will to cooperate with the government’s effort,” Cortes said.
The Department of Health-Central Visayas (DOH 7) said it respects the IATF decision to adjust the ages covered by the stay-at-home order.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said the most vulnerable population are still the very young and the very old, and those with comorbidities.
“Maybe on a positive note, by allowing those under 21 but not below 15 to go out, we develop in them the shared responsibility of keeping themselves healthy. By following the health standards, they protect themselves and their families from getting sick,” she said. / PR, JJL, GMC / JKV, KFD, WBS, JOB