Metro Manila and several other areas will be placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 1 starting March 1 as the Philippines tests out the "new normal".
Under Alert Level 1, the lowest set of COVID-19 restrictions under the Philippines' five-tier pandemic response system, contact tracing forms and plastic dividers in public transportation will no longer be required based on the latest guidelines issued by Malacañang.
Here are the rules you need to know under Alert Level 1 as approved by the government's inter-agency task force on COVID-19 response:
1. Face masks should be worn properly at all times in the following areas:
- Outdoor or in indoor private or public establishments
- Public transportation by land, air, or sea
2. Individuals can skip wearing face masks in the following cases:
- When eating and drinking
- When participating in team and individual sports in venues where ventilation standards can be maintained
- When practicing outdoor sports/exercise activities where physical distance can be maintained
3. All private offices and workplaces, including public and private construction sites, may operate at full 100% capacity, consistent with vaccination requirements for on-site work. Flexible and alternative work arrangements may be continued.
4. Government agencies and offices shall observe a 100% on-site workforce. Off-site work is subject to the rules issued by the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the President.
5. Public transportation shall be at full seating capacity. For public transportation between areas under Alert Level 1 and areas under a higher alert level, the lower passenger capacity rate between the point of origin and destination will be followed.
6. For aviation, maritime, and rail public transport operating in and out of Alert Level 1 areas, the passenger capacity will be at 100% capacity.
7. The use of acrylic and plastic dividers in public transportation is no longer mandatory.
8. The use of the Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) travel management system is no longer required for interzonal travel to areas under Alert Level 1.
9. Health declaration forms and paper-based contact tracing are no longer required for all agencies and establishments in areas under Alert Level 1.
10. The use of digital contact tracing apps such as StaySafe.PH is optional for all agencies and establishments.
11. For RT-PCR testing, priority should be given to health workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidites.
12. COVID-19 testing is not recommended for asymptomatic close contacts of COVID-19 patients unless they develop symptoms, after which they should isolate and monitor instead.
13. Should asymptomatic close contacts of COVID-19 patients get tested for the virus, it should be done at least 5 days from the day of last exposure. Testing shall also not be recommended for screening asymptomatic individuals.
14. Testing using antigen test kits is recommended only for symptomatic individuals and in instances wherein RT-PCR is not available.
15. The Hospital Infection Prevention and Control Committees may implement testing protocols in health facilities for health workers and patients based on their assessment of risk and benefit.
16. Establishments are no longer required to set up isolation facilities within the workplace.
17. The following shall be observed for the treatment and management of COVID-19 cases and their close contacts:
- MILD TO MODERATE COVID-19 CASES, CLOSE CONTACTS, ASYMPTOMATIC COVID-19 CASES: To be managed at the primary care level such as health centers, private clinics either through face-to-face consultation or teleconsultation
- SEVERE AND CRITICAL COVID-19 CASES: To be managed in the appropriate health care facility.
- In the case of reintegration, isolation can be discontinued upon completion of the recommended isolation period, provided that they do not have fever for at least 24 hours without the use of any antipyretic medications, and shall have improvement of respiratory signs and symptoms.
18. For workers who need to claim their sick leaves, health benefits, and other processes that require proof of COVID-19 management, a medical certificate may suffice but it should include the following information: name of patient, severity of symptoms, diagnosis as probable or confirmed COVID-19, and date of end of quarantine and/or isolation period.
19. Adults or those aged 18 and above need to present proof of full vaccination before joining mass gatherings, or for entry into indoor establishments. Children ages 17 and below shall not be required to present proof of vaccination status. These establishments include:
- In-person religious gatherings; gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of the COVID-19 deceased
- Indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments
- Indoor personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those offering aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures, make-up services, salons, spas, reflexology, and other similar procedures including home service option
- Fitness studios, gyms, and venues for exercise and sports
- Indoor cinemas or movie houses operating at full capacity
- Meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibition events, and permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers
- Venues with live voice or wind-instrument 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
20. For outdoor or al fresco dining and take out channels, no proof of full vaccination is required.