DTI eyes lifting of stay home restrictions on minors, elderly

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    THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is looking at possibly allowing children below 18 years old and senior citizens to go out of their residences and visit public places like restaurants and malls before Christmas.

    Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the agency will review and discuss with the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Department of Health (DOH) the possibility of gradually allowing those who are below 18 years old and those who are 60 years old and above to already leave their homes even if they are not frontliners or are among those listed in the government’s Authorized Persons Outside Residences (APOR) list.

    “That could be considered as the next part of the reopening, the widening of the age profile that can go out. That’s where we are heading. But it will be gradual and systematic. Not all below 18 years old will be immediately allowed,” Lopez said in a television interview on Saturday.

    Lopez said the DTI is hopeful this will be approved and implemented in time for the Christmas season.

    Lopez’s statement came after the Department of Tourism (DOT) relaxed the age restriction for local tourists who can visit Boracay Island to below 21 and above 60 years old.

    The DTI last Friday, October 2, issued Memorandum Circular  No.20-52 that allowed some businesses that are restricted to 50 percent of capacity to already operate up to 100 percent capacity subject to minimum public health and safety protocols.

    Under the circular, businesses under Categories 2 and 3 in areas under general community quarantine are already permitted to operate at 100 percent capacity while still allowing work from home arrangements, except for barber shops and salons, which are still limited to up to 75 percent capacity.

    ‘LOVE IS NOT TOURISM’

    Also on Saturday night, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the IATF is now looking into appeals to lift restrictions on foreign nationals with Filipino fiancés who are in the country after receiving letters from the “Love is Not Tourism” movement.

    Nograles, during the Karlo Nograles Live over Facebook, joked that almost all IATF members had probably received a letter from the movement, including him, which called for the lifting of the travel restrictions on foreigners with Filipino partners.

    He said a Technical Working Group (TWG) has already been formed to study whether to lift or sustain the travel restrictions and the IATF is just waiting for the report and recommendations of the task group.

    Love is Not Tourism is a movement that includes Filipinos who are unmarried but with foreign partners, or long-distance couples.

    At present, foreigners who are married to Filipinos or who have Philippine visas – apart from those who are involved in diplomatic missions, humanitarian missions or have work exemptions due to the expertise they render for certain projects programs or business – are currently allowed to enter the country upon presentation of their marriage certificates.

    Nograles, who is the IATF co-chairman, said the government, however, may allow the entry of foreigners, subject to certain protocols and on a case to case basis and for humanitarian reasons.

    He, however, say he could not categorically put “marriage” as a humanitarian reason to warrant an exemption.

    INTERNATIONAL TOURISM

    Likewise, Nograles said the government is now discussing the gradual opening of the country’s tourist destinations to international or foreign tourists.

    “Let’s start with domestic tourists. Let’s see (if) little by little we can open to international tourists,” Nograles also said.

    Nograles said at present only Boracay Island and Baguio City are open to domestic tourists under the DOT’s “travel bubble” program.

    He said Bohol and other provinces that are known for their tourist spots may soon follow depending on the preparations and readiness of local government units and local tourism offices, along with the implementation of health protocols and health capacity requirements.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who announced that he would hold his press conference in Boracay on Monday, had flown to the island destination over the weekend to help promote the local tourism industry.

    Roque said among the observations he made are the redundancy on the presentation of certain requirements like the QR codes that are repeatedly presented to various booths or windows upon arrival in Caticlan before you are cleared to proceed to the island. While in Boracay, Roque met with the officers of the Boracay Chamber of Commerce and Boracay Foundation Inc.

    CRIME RATE DOWN

    The Joint Task Force COVID Shield said crime rate in the country has decreased by 46 percent during the past 200 days of community quarantine throughout the country.

    Data from the task force showed there were a total of 18,683 crimes recorded under the eight focus crimes from March 17 to October 2, compared to 34,768 cases recorded 200 days prior to the quarantine or from August 30 2019 to March 16 this year.

    Motorcycle carnapping cases recorded a 64 percent decline, from 2,210 to only 786 during the quarantine period; followed by robbery cases, which went down by 61 percent or from 5,627 cases to only 2,073.

    Theft and carnapping of cars both recorded a 60 percent decline – from 11,653 cases to 4,690 cases for theft and from 240 cases to only 97 for carnapping of cars.

    The task force recorded a 38 percent decline in physical injury cases, from 5,958 to 3,692.

    Rape cases recorded a 23 percent drop, from 5,080 to 3,911; murder decreased by 20 percent, from 3,463 to 2,761; while homicide cases declined by 25 percent, from 897 to 673 cases.

    The 46 percent drop in the crime rate during the past 200-day quarantine slightly worsened compared to the first 100 days of quarantine, from March 17 to June 24 – when a 54 percent decrease was recorded.

    “Translated to a daily crime average, the Philippines has recorded an average of 93 criminal incidents per day during the 200-day implementation of the community quarantine compared to 174 per day incidents of the 200-day period before the community quarantine implementation,” said task force chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar.

    Eleazar said PNP chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan has given directives to maintain police visibility in communities not only to sustain the improved peace and order situation but also ensure that quarantine protocols are enforced.

    The number of quarantine violators accosted during the 200-day community quarantine was pegged at 437,999, of which 167,453 were merely warned, 156,789 were fined, while 113,757 were charged in court.

    The number of quarantine violators accosted during the first 100 days of community quarantine was placed at 205,761 — 111,393 were warned, 32,127 were fined and 62,241 were charged. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Victor Reyes