Metro Manila mayors vote to downgrade to Alert Level 1 starting March 1, 2022

The 17 mayors of Metro Manila have unanimously voted to downgrade the National Capital Region (NCR) to Alert Level 1, the lowest COVID-19 government alert level classification.

In an interview with TV5, Parañaque City mayor and Metro Manila Council (MMC) chairman Edwin Olivarez stated that the council held a meeting on Tuesday night. The mayors subsequently reached a consensus and formally recommended the Interagency Task Force (IATF) to downgrade the region to the lowest alert level status.

According to Olivarez, the mayors based their decision on multiple factors. These include the improving risk classification of NCR, the region's dropping healthcare utilization rate, a decreasing positivity rate, and the number of fully vaccinated persons in the country, which currently stands at nearly 58 percent.

Despite the mayors' recommendation, the IATF has yet to settle the matter. The task force will meet on Thursday to discuss the issue and decide on the next stage of quarantine classifications.

Metro Manila has been under Alert Level 2 since mid-February. If the IATF approves the measure, it will be the first time that Metro Manila shifts to Alert Level 1 since the system came into effect. 

Olivarez has called the possible move "the new normal." Under Alert Level 1, intrazonal and interzonal movement will be allowed regardless of age and comorbidities.

All establishments, persons, or activities, are allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at full on-site or venue/seating capacity provided it is consistent with minimum public health standards; provided further, that face to face classes for basic education shall be subject to prior approval of the Office of the President.

The government has begun preparing for the "endemic stage" of COVID-19. Endemic diseases currently include relatively common afflictions like dengue and tuberculosis. Meanwhile, various health experts have warned that it could be too early to consider COVID-19 as endemic. Whatever the case may be, leaders from the nation's capital agree to the shift to Alert Level 1 in March.

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