With the advent of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, world governments have been at work to clamp down the pandemic once again. In the Philippines, the fast-spreading strain threatens to undo months of hard-earned progress. Omicron has contributed to what might be the country's biggest surge to date.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has pushed to stop the bleeding by reclassifying the National Capital Region (NCR) under the stricter Alert Level 3. NCR houses many of the recent cases, so getting ahead of the curve in the region could make a difference.
For the mayors of Metro Manila, it might not be enough. According to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the leaders have agreed to pass local ordinances that will restrict the movements and activities of unvaccinated people in their respective cities.
The proposed legislative measures, along with the resumption of the number coding scheme, could help regulate the number of people going outside at any given time. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will also coordinate with the MMDA to help implement the travel restrictions for unvaccinated individuals. Those who refuse to cooperate may be imposed significant penalties, including violations and fines.
As for the proposed legislative measures, the terms will likely vary between local government units (LGUs). However, we can expect that it will disallow vaccine-less people from visiting malls, restaurants, and other public areas. While leisure trips are out of the question, the unvaccinated will still be allowed to go out to purchase essentials like food, water, and medicine. Individual outdoor exercise is also allowed, albeit in a limited capacity "within the general area of residence."
Unvaccinated Metro Manila workers living outside the nation's capital will also be mandated to pay for and take RT-PCR tests every two weeks to continue on-site work. It appears the restrictions for unvaccinated individuals have reached their highest point in the Philippines, so those without a vaccine could stand to benefit from getting the shot as soon as possible.