MANILA: Forced to stay at home for nearly two years, children in Metro Manila were allowed to leave their homes on Friday as the Philippine government eased restrictions on public movement in the capital region.
Restrictions on the movement of young people under the age of 18, as well as restrictions on recreation and contact sports, have been relaxed in the region, inhabited by an estimated 13 million people, for the first time since the Philippines started imposing closures early last year. .
Limited face-to-face classes in schools are expected to resume soon in areas with high vaccination rates.
The easing of restrictions approved Thursday by the interagency task force responsible for the pandemic response comes amid steadily declining cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“It’s very historic because after two years, it is only now that minors can go out again,” Benhur Abalos, chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority, told reporters on Friday.
Under Secretary of Health Maria Rosario Vergeire told a press briefing that there had been a steady decrease in COVID-19 cases in the country, especially in metro Manila.
As of mid-September, the Philippines was registering more than 26,000 new infections a day, as the delta variant of the disease swept through the country. Authorities reported 2,376 new infections on Friday, with the country’s total number of 110 million now standing at nearly 2.8 million, with 44,085 deaths.
The capital region, Vergeire said, was currently seeing fewer than 500 new cases per day, up from 5,000 during the delta variant outbreak.
“We have seen a significant drop in the number of cases. We also found that as the number of cases decreased, hospital admissions also decreased, ”she added.
Under the relaxed restrictions, individual outdoor activities are allowed for all ages regardless of vaccination status and indoor locations such as restaurants, galleries, amusement parks, karaoke, wedding halls, lounges Hairdressers and spas can operate up to 50 percent of their capacity but cannot admit fully vaccinated people, as well as those under 18 years of age.
Casinos, betting shops and other gambling establishments remain closed.
The new guidelines are in place until November 21, but can be extended if the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospital admission rates continue to decline.
As restrictions related to the pandemic loosen, Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar has ordered staff in the capital region to focus more on crime prevention.
“Now that the restrictions are further relaxed due to the continued decline in COVID-19 cases in the country, I have instructed all of our unit commanders to step up their campaign against crime,” he said. in a press release. “I am sure that among those who have received new hope are the criminal elements who want to resume their illegal activities. “