(UPDATED) The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has further relaxed age-based restrictions in MGCQ areas to allow children who are 10 years old and above to step out of their homes beginning February 1, 2021.
Under Resolution No. 95, individuals who are 10 to 65 years old will be allowed to go out in areas placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
Those mandated to stay at home are persons below 10 years old and above 65 years old, individuals with immunodeficiency and comorbidity, and pregnant women.
The resolution, which was adopted on Thursday, January 21, 2021, also approved the national deployment and vaccination plan for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The plan will serve as end-to-end guide for local government units (LGUs), which have been directed to draw up their localized vaccination plans.
The same resolution approved the request of the Professional Regulation Commission to conduct under strict health safety protocols the licensure examinations for professionals in January to March 2021.
Exemptions to entry restrictions covering countries with reported cases of the new variants of Sars-CoV-2 were amended.
Foreign nationals with valid visas are permitted entry in the country. They include accredited foreign diplomats and personnel of accredited international organizations, provided they will undergo a swab test and a strict 14-day quarantine.
Foreign dignitaries and those who are entering the country for medical and emergency purposes are also allowed, subject to testing and quarantine protocols.
The spouse and minor children of Filipino citizens traveling with them are also permitted entry, subject to testing and quarantine protocols.
Filipino citizens traveling from countries covered by travel restrictions, local diplomats and those who are returning to the country for exceptional and/or medical reasons will be subject to quarantine protocols.
Inbound Filipino passengers will now have to be tested twice, upon arrival and on the fifth day after arrival.
They will now be subject to existing quarantine protocols instead of a strict facility-based quarantine regardless of the test results.
Those who test negative after the repeat test are endorsed to their LGUs, which will ensure that the passenger complete the remainder of the 14-day quarantine.
Those who test positive are transferred to isolation facilities.
Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing Friday that the quarantine policy was amended because of capacity limitations and the increasing number of countries covered by the entry restrictions.
“Because of capacity and nakikita naman po natin na we are able to manage the process at tayo ay nakiusap na sa local governments for them to strengthen their isolation and quarantine (facilities),” Vergeire said.
The restrictions, which are being enforced until January 31, 2021 unless extended, were imposed in a bid to block the new variants of Sars-CoV-2, which are more contagious although they do not necessarily lead to a more severe form of Covid-19.
The Philippines has recorded one confirmed case of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was detected first in England. The patient arrived from Dubai via Emirates EK332 on January 7. His latest swab test, however, showed that he was already negative for Sars-CoV-2.
Fourteen others - his partner, his mother, a health worker and 11 other passengers of EK332 - have also tested positive for the virus. Genome sequencing is being conducted to determine whether they also carry the B.1.1.7 variant.
The government is still trying to locate three close contacts, two in the National Capital Region and one in Central Visayas. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)