Masks, proof of vax, full capacity: Rules for the ‘new normal’

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People spend time outdoors in the city of Makati on February 24, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Metro Manila and 38 other regions from March 1 will move to the loosest of five COVID-19 alert levels dubbed the “new normal.”

Malacañang on Monday reminded the public of the following guidelines that must be adhered to under Alert Level 1.

MASKS

Properly fitted face masks should be worn correctly at all times, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

Exceptions include eating and drinking, participating in team and individual sports where ventilation standards can be maintained, and engaging in outdoor sports or physical activities where physical distancing can be maintained.

FULL CAPACITY

All offices and private workplaces, including public and private construction sites, can operate at 100% capacity, in accordance with national publications on vaccination requirements for on-site work, Nograles said.

But he said the offices “could continue to offer flexible and alternative working arrangements as deemed appropriate based on individual function or risk”.

Government agencies and bodies will also adhere to a 100% on-site workforce. Offsite work is subject to the rules of the Public Service Commission and the president’s office, Nograles said.

He said establishments are no longer required to set up isolation facilities in the workplace.

To apply for sick leave, health benefits, or other relevant processes, a medical certificate may suffice as long as it includes the patient’s name, severity of symptoms, diagnosis of probable or confirmed COVID-19, and quarantine end date, Nograles said.

VACCINATION

The palace official said those aged 18 and over will be required to show proof of full vaccination before attending mass gatherings or entering covered establishments.

He said these include the following.

  • In-person religious gatherings; gatherings for obituaries, wakes, burials and funerals of those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the ashes of those who died of COVID-19
  • All catering services inside food preparation establishments such as kiosks, stores, restaurants and canteens. For outdoor or alfresco dining and takeaway, no proof of full vaccination is required
  • Indoor personal care establishments such as barber shops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those that provide aesthetic or cosmetic services or procedures, makeup services, salons, spas , reflexology and other similar procedures, including in-home service options
  • Fitness studios, gymnasiums and exercise and sports venues
  • All movie theaters or indoor movie theaters operating at full capacity
  • Meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibition events and licensed venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagements, wedding anniversaries, ante and birthday parties, family reunions and wedding or baby showers
  • Venues with vocal or wind performers and audiences such as karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls and theaters
  • Indoor ancillary establishments in hotels and other accommodation establishments
  • Venues for election-related events

Asked if proof of vaccination will be required to vote in the May elections, Nograles said: “As it stands, ang pinag-uusapan of yan ngayon are election-related activities on pre-election day. .”

(What we’re talking about are pre-election day activities.)

He said Malacañang was coordinating with the Electoral Commission on Election Day rules.



UVP


Public transport in areas under Alert Level 1 should be at full capacity, Nograles said. The use of acrylic and/or plastic dividers in public transport is not required.

For public ground transportation between an area with a higher alert level and an area under Alert 1, the lower passenger capacity rate will be implemented, Nograles said.

Use of the Safe, Swift and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) travel management system will not be required for interzonal travel to areas under Alert 1, it added.

CONTACT TRACING

Paper-based health declaration forms or contact tracing will not be required for all agencies and facilities under Alert Level 1. Digital contact tracing such as the StaySafe.PH app is optional, a said Nograles.

TEST

RT-PCR testing should be recommended and prioritized for older people, people with comorbidity, and healthcare workers.

“Testing should be optional for other groups not listed above. It should not be recommended for asymptomatic close contacts unless symptoms develop, and should be isolated immediately regardless of test results. instead, symptom monitoring is recommended,” Nograles said.

In the meantime, he said antigen testing will only be recommended for symptomatic people and in cases where RT-PCR is not available.

Hospital Infection Prevention and Control Committees (HIPCCs) can implement testing protocols in healthcare facilities for healthcare workers and patients based on their risk-benefit assessment.

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