Restrictions on unvaxxed residents set nationwide
President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to barangay officials to limit the movement of unvaccinated residents applies to all areas of the country regardless of the prevailing alert level, Malacañang said on Friday.
Mr. Duterte issued the order after Metro Manila mayors agreed to pass ordinances requiring unvaccinated residents to stay home unless going out for essential goods and services or reporting for work.
“If they are unvaccinated and they are not going out for anything essential and not for work, they should not go out because this is for the safety and protection of the unvaccinated and of the entire community and the country,” acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said.
Barangay officials could arrest those who refuse to follow their orders, Mr. Duterte said.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez assured the country’s largest business group that the government would not implement hard lockdowns, but instead restrict the movement of the unvaccinated.
George Barcelon, president of The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), welcomed the assurance, saying it will provide stability to business and sustain economic recovery.
No hard lockdowns
“With a high level of the vaccination program and medical treatment already put in place, we may have to change some protocols toward favoring the vaccinated instead of implementing lockdowns,” Lopez was quoted by PCCI as saying.
“We are happy that the government is no longer imposing hard lockdowns as a safeguard measure against increasing Omicron cases. Otherwise, it would be difficult again for our economy to recover if businesses will be shut down,” Barcelon said.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denied rumors circulating on social media that Mr. Duterte would impose martial law to contain the latest surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
“Not true. Fake news. Definitely, out of the picture,” he said in a message to reporters on Thursday night.
In a 46-second audio recording making the rounds on social media chat groups, a woman was urging the public to stock up on food supplies good until the end of the month in case Mr. Duterte declares martial law or a total lockdown, in which no one would be allowed to go out, possibly by Monday or Tuesday next week.
Alert level 4The Philippine National Police, however, said it was preparing for the potential scenario that certain areas in the country would be put on alert level 4, the second-most restrictive in the five-tier alert level system of community quarantine in the country.
When asked whether there would be a lockdown similar to the strictest enhanced community quarantine implemented in 2020, the defense chief said there would be none.
According to Lorenzana, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases was still evaluating the situation “but not total lockdown.”
Lorenzana, who also chairs the National Task Force Against COVID-19, downplayed the increase in new daily infections brought about by the local transmission of the Omicron variant.
“Today (Jan. 6) we have 17,220 [cases]. This variant, while more transmissible, is less virulent than Delta. Less people get seriously sick,” he said.
Local and international health experts, for their part, warned against prematurely concluding that Omicron tends to produce milder infections.
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