NCR mayors restrict mobility of unvaxxed persons

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr. (PNA File photo)

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. has bared MMDA Resolution No. 22-01, series of 2022, which urges local government units (LGU) to enact ordinances for “enhanced restriction” on unvaccinated individuals.

Abalos said the resolution has been agreed upon “in principle” by the 17 Metro Manila 17 mayors in National Capital Region (NCR) and the MMDA — in a meeting that included members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Abalos said the measure has become necessary in the light of the rising cases of Covid-19 and the threat of the Omicron variant.

In their resolution, the mayors urged the NCR LGUs to urge their unvaccinated residents to remain at home “at all times” except when necessary to go out and procure essential goods and services such as food, water, medical services, or work.

The NCR is now under the stricter Alert Level 3. It will remain so until January 15. For the unvaccinated, it will be like having an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) for the protection of everybody, including themselves.

Abalos said individual outdoor exercise is still allowed for all individuals regardless of vaccination status, comorbidities or age within “the general area of their residence, e. g., within the barangay, purok, subdivision, or village subject to the guidelines of the Metro Manila local government units.”

The unvaccinated, however, are prohibited from indoor and outdoor/al fresco dining in restaurants and other food establishments and from “leisure and social trips to malls, hotels, event venues, sports, and country clubs, and similar facilities,” he added.

In an earlier resolution, the IATF requires the unvaccinated to  undergo a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test every two weeks at their personal expense and present a Covid-19 negative result prior to being admitted for work onsite.

“In the event that the RT-PCR test and/or result is/are not immediately available, a Rapid Antigen Test may be utilized in lieu thereof,” said the resolution which also covers individuals who reside outside but who work and/or travel to the NCR.

These restrictions, Abalos explained, form part of government’s efforts to “forestall and immediately address” the perceived impact of rising Covid-19 cases and the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

“The advances in public health and the economic gains that have been achieved in recent months under Alert Level 2 must be sustained and preemptive measures must be adopted,” the resolution read, citing RA 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Disease and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act that is a “state policy to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”

Violators of the resolution can be prosecuted and penalized under RA 11332 including a fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P50,000 or imprisonment of not less than one month but not more than six months at the court may decide.

Abalos assured, however, the restrictions are only “temporary” and will only be lifted once the Covid-19 alert level in NCR is at Alert Level 2 or below.