Metro mayors wary of eased restrictions

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    File photo: Some Metro Manila mayors at a council meeting (Handout photo from Manila PIO)

    BY NOEL TALACAY

    METRO mayors are opposed to the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to ease the age restrictions for those who can leave their homes starting February 1.

    The consensus was disclosed by Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez who said the Metro Manila Council (MMC) will meet with health experts today and tomorrow to discuss the impact of the new age bracket restrictions on the rate of transmission of the virus.

    The IATF on Friday announced that those aged 10 to 65 years old in modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) areas and those aged 15 to 65 years old in GCQ areas, including Metro Manila, are already allowed to leave their homes starting February 1 subject to compliance with health protocols.

    Olivarez said the likelihood is high that there will be a surge in infections because more people will now be exposed to the virus.

    After their meeting with the health experts, Olivarez said the MMC will come up with its own proposal on what age bracket would be

    Personally, Olivarez said he is against easing the age restrictions because of the danger of exposing young children and more elders to the virus. “In my personal opinion, here in Parañaque City, we would like to stick with the age bracket and not expand it to 10 years old and above, upon consultation with the local task force,” he said.

    “We know how children can become super-spreaders. They are asymptomatic and may bring the virus to their homes,” he added.

    The health department has earlier said it was against the easing of the age restrictions especially after three minors were reported infected with the more contagious United Kingdom (UK) coronavirus variant.

    IATF co-chairman Karlo Nograles said that in coming up with its latest decision, the task force took note of the “manageable” increase in COVID-19 cases when it first lowered the age restriction to 15 years old last year.

    Nograles noted that the Philippines has one of the most restrictive quarantine protocols for children in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic

    He said the IATF compared and considered the practices in other countries when they made the decision about the easing of age restriction.

    “In other countries, they are not as restrictive in the movement of children. In other countries, they do not imprison their children at home,” he said in an interview with radio DzBB.

    Nograles said the IATF believes that the children, aged from 10 to 14 are already aware and have some level of understanding of the current situation, including the importance of following minimum health protocols especially when they go out.

    He said they saw this when they first eased the age restriction in October 2020 from 18 years old to 60 years old to the current 15 years old to 65 years old.

    “We saw after the holidays, the Christmas holidays, that our cases per day are still manageable so we decided to ease the age restriction to 10 years old,” he said.

    Nograles said that besides, children ages 10 to 14 years old should be accompanied by their parents or guardians when they decide to go out to ensure that they comply with existing health protocols.

    He said a revised resolution highlighting the guidelines on easing of age restriction will be released soon. – With Jocelyn Montemayor