IATF lays down new requirements, exemptions to Luzon-wide lockdown
MANILA, Philippines — Local government units who plan to buy or use coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) test kits should first consult with the Department of Health if it is necessary to do so.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has laid down the new requirement and other exemptions to the Luzon-wide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.
IATF spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Sunday addressed the nation to announce the amendments to the existing guidelines, as detailed in IATF Resolution 14.
“All LGUs must first coordinate with DOH prior to acquiring, purchasing or utilizing testing kits within their respective territorial jurisdictions,” Nograles said, reading part of the revised measures.
The IATF also organized the Response Cluster and Incident Management Team at the national, regional and local levels, designating the DOH to lead the response clusters and the Department of Interior and Local Government to lead the incident management teams.
“Moreover, the regional Inter-Agency Task Groups for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases are hereby organized in all regions headed by the regional directors of the DOH,” Nograles said.
The IATF also allowed the accommodation of distressed or stranded overseas Filipino workers in hotels, which ceased operations since the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine.
It authorized the Overseas Welfare Workers Administration to issue certifications needed by the distressed OFWs in seeking temporary lodging in such hotels.
The latest IATF resolution also repealed previous provisions on the entry of foreign nationals to the Philippines. It immediately suspended the issuance of visas to all foreign nationals, as well as visa-free privileges based on visa waiver agreements, holders of Hong Kong, Macau, Macau-Portuguese passports and British national overseas passports.
As in previous resolutions, foreign spouses and children of Filipinos are exempted from the above suspension.
Foreign nationals with visas previously issued by foreign service posts will not be allowed entry into the country, except for accredited foreign government and international organization officials and their dependents; and foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals whose visas will remain valid and will be honored when entering the country even after said date.
Business process outsourcing and export-oriented establishments were given until March 22 to prepare alternative work arrangements, such as temporary accommodations for their workers, the need to shuttle employees and the transfer of necessary equipment to facilitate work from home arrangements.
The IATF also finetuned the exemptions to the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine and extended the period of issuance of IATF accredited IDs to March 26.
As to media workers, this will be limited to 50 percent of a media outfit’s total permanent staff and will include reporters and other field employees.
“No further exemptions shall be granted by March 23,” Nograles stressed, as he appealed for the public’s patience and calm as the world faces an unprecedented crisis.
Also exempted from the lockdown and travel restrictions are members of Congress and their chiefs of staff; department secretaries, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and bureau directors of the different government agencies under the executive branch;
Ombudsman and deputy Ombudsmen; justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals and the Sandiganbayan, and their skeleton-workforce; judges of regional, metropolitan, and municipal circuit trial courts and prosecutors, and their skeleton-workforce; local chief executives; and close-in staff necessary.
Also exempted are: At most three personnel operating cargo vehicles and delivery service vehicles for food, drinking water, medicine, and other basic necessities, with or without load; employees of manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products, essential products, medicine, and medical supplies;
Employees of retail establishments like groceries, supermarkets, hypermarkets, convenience stores, public markets, pharmacies, and drug stores; logistics service providers such as cargo handling, warehousing, trucking, freight forwarding, and shipping lines;
Hospitals and medical clinics; food preparations and water refilling stations; delivery services whether in-house or outsourced transporting only food, water, medicine or other basic necessities;
Banks and capital markets, power, energy, water, IT and telecommunications supplies and facilities, waste disposal services; export and BPO companies; airline and aircraft maintenance employees, including pilot and crew, and ship captain and crew;
Hotels that have bookings as of March 17; energy companies and their third-party contractors, employees involved in electric transmission and distribution, electric power plant and line maintenance and those involved in exploration, operations, trading and delivery of coal, oil or any kind of fuel used to produce electricity.
Also exempted are employees of telecommunications utilities who provide indirect services such as security, technical, sales, and other support personnel, and employees of their third-party contractors doing sales, installation, maintenance, and repair work.
Also exempted are pastors, priests, imams or such other religious ministers whose movement shall be related to the conduct of necrological or funeral rites; and heads of mission or designated foreign mission representatives and a limited number of personnel.
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