The national government’s clarification that minors in Metro Manila are still not allowed outdoors confused some Filipinos, citing the reopening of tourist spots and other recreational areas.
In a briefing on Thursday, October 21, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairperson Benhur Abalos stated that minors are still prohibited from going to malls or parks on their own despite the region being placed under Alert Level 3.
Abalos quoted the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for the pilot alert level system in Metro Manila.
Under Section 4.1 or the guidelines for Alert Level 3, it was stated that those who are below 18 years old or those who belong to the vulnerable population are allowed access to:
- To obtain essential goods and services
- For work in permitted industries and offices in accordance with existing labor laws, rules and regulations.
- Individual outdoor exercises for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status
Moreover, it was also stated that intrazonal and interzonal travel shall also be allowed provided with restrictions from the local government units.
Abalos explained to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque that for Metro Manila mayors, the condition is that minors will only be allowed to travel if they are accompanied with a parent or guardian.
“Sa apat, ito lang ang binigyan ng poder ang mga mayors para maglagay sila ng kondisyon. At ang kondisyon po na napagkasunduan ng mga alkalde ay ang mga menor de edad ay pupuwedeng bumiyahe provided kasama sila ng kanilang mga magulang or ng isang adult na guardian,” he said.
“Maski hindi ho bakunado, Spox Harry, kasi ang dahilan po nito, may mga kababayan tayo, kunwari, na hindi pa bakunado, kasama iyong mga anak, pinapayagan na po iyon,” he added.
Roque, on his part, reiterated this rule on minors.
“Lalabas lang sila kung mayroong necessity, kung kinakailangang magtrabaho at ang travel naman po ay subject to restrictions to be imposed by the local government units,” he said.
In the same briefing, Abalos also clarified on the rule on essential services inside malls.
“Generally bawal po iyan, except kung, let say, nandoon iyong dentista, nandoon iyong clinic hindi ba because these are essential or basic. Iyong mga ganoon,” he said.
Why are these rules confusing?
The policy seemed to contradict the types of venues or establishments that were allowed to partially reopen.
Alert Level 3 allows the reopening of indoor venues at 30% capacity for fully-vaccinated individuals and outdoor venues at 50% capacity.
This include theme parks, malls, arcades, swimming pools, cinemas, tourist attractions and other establishments.
Limited face-to-face classes for higher education and for technical-vocational education and training are also allowed under this alert level.
Some social media users pointed this out as they expressed their ire over the confusing protocols.
“Sana consistent. Kahit hanggang bukas lang ganon. Gulo e,” one user said.
“Based on the guidelines they released, alert level 3 supposedly allows face-to-face classes, recreational venues for children, cinemas, live performances. But minors are not allowed outside?” another user pointed out.
Others shared that there had been many children outdoors already.
“Daming mga bata sa dolomite beach,” one user said.
“Ang dami batang hamog sa lansangan, sa jeep, sa door ng 7/11, sa palengke, at sa dolomite beach,” another user said.
Despite the loosened restrictions, Abalos reminded the public to continue observing minimum health protocols outdoors such as the standing face shield and mask policy.