Senate begins 3-week lockdown Aug. 15; visitors must show negative COVID test

The Senate will implement a lockdown for three weeks starting August 15, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri announced on Wednesday.

File photo of the Senate session hall undergoing disinfection in this photo taken on November 18, 2021, as a precaution against COVID-19. The Senate will be disinfected once again after several senators get infected by COVID-19 recently. Senate PRIB file photo / Joseph Vidal

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate will implement a lockdown for guests for three weeks starting August 15, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri announced on Wednesday.

The stricter protocol came after Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Imee Marcos, and Cynthia Villar tested positive for COVID-19.

“For the record, papasok po tayong lahat. ‘Yung exempted lang sa pagpasok natin dito sa plenaryo ay ‘yung mga may COVID, ‘yung may sintomas, and ‘yung may close contacts,” Zubiri said during the plenary session.

(For the record, we will all be present here in the plenary except those with COVID, symptomatic, and close contacts of an infected patient.)

“They will be allowed to avail of the hybrid system,” he added.

According to Zubiri, visitors allowed to enter the Senate compound are limited to resource persons only.

Each agency or organization will only be allowed to bring three resource persons. Others may participate virtually.

Visitors will be required to present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test with a quick response (QR) code taken within 24 hours or an antigen test taken within 12 hours before entry to the upper chamber.

The COVID-19 test must be conducted by a facility accredited by the Department of Health.

During committee hearings, senators may be assisted by two staff members. Panel chairpersons may bring more.

Meanwhile, during sessions, the two-staff-per-senator rule will be imposed.

Further, in elevators, only five people will be limited at a time.

With these tighter rules, the government’s efforts to bring back normalcy are facing a challenge.

“In this case, it is the hybrid of the hybrid because we’re having hybrid sessions only for those members who have COVID-19 and those who have symptoms as well as exposure,” said Zubiri.

Independent analytics group Octa Research said that COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila may reach its peak next week as indicators have gone down.


Alan Peter Cayetano tests positive for COVID-19

Imee Marcos tests positive for COVID-19

Cynthia Villar contracts COVID-19