DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 ordered the DILG regional office in Central Visayas to look into the vaccine bubble policy of the Cebu City Government.
Año said this was not approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Under the vaccine bubble policy, individuals who are fully vaccinated against the highly infectious coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) will enjoy privileges such as indoor dining and access to personal care services in salons and spas.
The Department of Health (DOH), which chairs the IATF, earlier said it was not in favor of easing restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals because this would lead to discrimination and would be disadvantageous to those who don’t have access to the vaccines yet.
Año said he ordered the DILG regional office to coordinate with Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama regarding the policy.
He said Rama’s implementation of the policy is not timely because of the country’s low vaccination rate.
Under Rama’s Executive Order 138, issued when he was acting mayor on Sept. 2, food kiosks, commissaries, restaurants and eateries may operate and provide indoor dine-in services at 10 percent capacity to partially and fully vaccinated individuals.
Beauty salons, barbershops, beauty parlors and nail spas, which may operate at 30 percent capacity, may also provide services to partially and fully vaccinated customers, according to the EO 138.
Those who are not yet vaccinated may still enter malls and other establishments.
Cebu City was on modified enhanced community quarantine from Sept. 1 to 7, but the EO relaxed some restrictions for those vaccinated against Covid-19.
Asked to comment on Año’s directive, Rama said he welcomed a DILG inquiry into the matter so that the side of the business sector could be heard.
Rama said the suggestion to ease restrictions for vaccinated individuals came from Cebu’s business sector.
“Let’s wait for the DILG probe so that the business sector can also air their side because the suggestion came from them. It was something to help the LGU so that our economy will be up and at the same time we can address our health. At the end of the day, it will make vaccination also attractive,” Rama said.
“If we open up without restrictions, then our efforts are of no use. Now we will be able to manage our Covid situation,” Rama added.
Jeffrey Ibones head of the Cebu City Health Department (CHD), said a total of 508,000 vaccine doses had been given to residents of Cebu City. Of the number, around 200,000 received their complete doses.
Cebu City had 668,000 individuals registered under its website Pabakunata.com as of Sept. 13, 2021.
Ibones said 43,000 doses arrived from the DOH 7 on Tuesday, Sept. 14 which will be distributed to the City’s nine vaccination sites. (PAC, SunStar Philippines)