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Confinement ends for fully immunized Filipino seniors

Filipino SeniorsFully vaccinated senior citizens in the Philippines can now go out after more than a year of home confinement. This was announced June 10 by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

There are conditions, though: seniors can travel only within their region and areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ); they also have to present their COVID-19 vaccination cards; and observe public health standards, wear masks and face shields.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the decision to allow more mobility for fully vaccinated senior citizens was based on science and meant to “incentivize vaccines.”

Franklin Quijano, chair of the National Commission of Senior Citizens, said that allowing vaccinated senior citizens to go out would encourage other elderly residents to get inoculated. While senior citizens are a priority in the government’s mass immunization drive against COVID-19, it continues to be a challenge with only a small percentage of them vaccinated, so far.

Gyms now open

The IATF also permitted the reopening of gyms, fitness centres and indoor, noncontact sports venues, in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus area, which covers Metro Manila and nearby provinces. However, these venues can only operate at 30 per cent capacity with a safety seal certification from the government.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the relaxed restrictions would allow some 22,000 workers in the gym industry alone to return to their jobs.

The IATF also allowed historical sites and museums in the NCR Plus area to operate at 20-per cent capacity with approval from the local government. Guided tours in the historical sites and museums are still prohibited.

Interzonal travel remains prohibited, except for point-to-point trips, such as to certain tourism areas that were previously allowed.

Travel guidelines

The IATF revised its guidelines for fully vaccinated inbound international passengers effective June 16.

The vaccination cards of the fully vaccinated individual must be verified prior to departure. This would include a certification from the Department of Information and Communications Technology or the City Health Officer of the local government unit that administered the last dose. Upon arrival in the Philippines, this certification must be presented to the Bureau of Quarantine for re-verification at the Department of Transportation One Stop Shop.

Aside from having a shorter seven-day quarantine, individuals fully vaccinated in the Philippines no longer need to undergo the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test unless they manifest COVID-19 symptoms during their quarantine.