Gov’t allows religious gatherings at 30% seating capacity in GCQ areas

Marje Pelayo   •   October 23, 2020   •   246

MANILA, Philippines – The government has made another step to further relax community restrictions under the recently issued Resolution No. 80 approved by the Inter – Agency Task Force against COVID-19.

On Friday (October 23), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that religious gatherings are now allowed up to 30% seating capacity from the previous 10% in areas covered by general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila.

“Pinayagan na ang religious gatherings sa mga lugar sa ilalim ng GCQ na hanggang 30 percent of the seating or venue capacity,” he said.

“Ito rin po ay alinsunod doon sa mga naging rekomendasyon ng ating mga Metro Manila mayors,” he added.

Meanwhile, foreign investors or foreign nationals who are investors’ visa holders may also enter the country, according to the IATF.

Roque stressed, however, that this does not include foreign tourists visa holders.

“Hindi po lahat ng foreign nationals ang ina-allow,” Roque emphasized.

Roque clarified that only foreigners who are holders of the following requirements are allowed to enter the country:

  • Holders of investors visa; 
  • Holders of 4782 visa issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ);
  • Holders of visa issued by Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Foreigners who are eligible to enter the Philippines still need an existing, valid visa and a pre-booked stay at an accredited quarantine facility among others.

In addition to the above new ruling, the IATF lifted the previous requirement of pre-boarding test for outbound Filipino travelers.

This means anyone who wants to leave the country no longer needs an antigen testing result but they still need to present a negative COVID-19 test result if required by their country of destination or their airline of choice. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

IATF allows entry of Balikbayans starting Dec. 7

Maris Federez   •   November 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has approved the entry of balikbayans and their families to the country starting December 7.

In Resolution No. 85 dated November 26, the IATF has resolved to allow entry privileges to the Philippines Filipino citizens and former Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouses and children, regardless of age, who are traveling with them.  These privileges were provided for under Republic Act No. 6768 or the “Act Instituting the Balikbayan Program”.

The resolution stated that the entry of these persons shall be subject to the following conditions:

  1. They are allowed visa-free entry under Executive Order No. 408, s. 1960;
  2. With pre-booked quarantine facility;
  3. With pre-booked COVID-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport; and
  4. Subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.

The decision of the IATF is without prejudice to immigration laws, rules, and regulations of the Bureau of Immigration (BI), the resolution said.

Among such regulations is that the Commissioner of Immigration shall have the exclusive prerogative to decide on waiver or recall of exclusion order for the above foreign nationals, including other foreign nationals who have entered the Philippines by virtue of the IATF resolutions.

The resolution also directed the BI to formulate the necessary guidelines to ensure smooth implementation, as well as the Department of Tourism to issue the necessary guidelines for the provision of sufficient accommodation for the foregoing persons taking into account the release of COVID-19 test results, the resolution further stated. — /mbmf

Face-to-face classes will only be allowed upon Duterte, IATF approval – DepEd

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education has stressed that it will only allow the conduct of face-to-face classes upon the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the government’s policy prohibiting in-person classes will remain amid the coronavirus pandemic, although the department is looking into the possibility of reintroducing face-to-face classes next year.

She said a report to be submitted to the president on the opening of classes and DepEd’s recommendations is being finalized.

“We are preparing a report for the President on our current experience with the opening of classes, at klaro naman na kung magkaroon ng face to face, it will be very limited to areas which are absolutely safe. There will be conditions from the Department of Health; there will also be conditions coming from us. Hindi po lahat-lahat, [hindi] sabay-sabay iyan na mag-face to face, kung payag si President,” Briones said.

“At saka, depende sa approach iyan, kasi iyong number of students, etc. So we are [also] now looking into that,” she added.

The school year opened last October 5 with blended forms of learning through self-learning modules, internet and TV- and radio-based instructions.

The DepEd chief also reiterated its earlier statement that it did not approve any localized and limited face-to-face learning workshops.

“Uulitin ko, definitely not this year at definitely walang mga arrangements right now with kung sinumang mga grupo na magpi-face to face at this time because the President has not made any pronouncement at all. Pero [patuloy kaming] magri-report kami sa kaniya,” Briones said.

Meanwhile, the Education chief also directed a study on reconceptualizing learning spaces post-COVID, which include not just classroom, but homes, community spaces, and virtual space.

IATF lifts requirement for airlines to set up COVID-19 isolation areas on domestic flights

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Airline companies operating domestic flights will no longer be required to reserve a portion of the aircraft cabin as an isolation area for passengers showing symptoms of novel coronavirus disease, the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) leading the COVID-19 response said.

In a resolution approved on Thursday, the IATF said this measure “shall no longer be mandated to be part of the COVID-19 health protocols for domestic flights.”

The lifting of this requirement was upon the recommendation of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The IATF also directed local government units (LGU) to relax entry protocols such as test-upon-arrival requirement imposed upon airline crew layovers/positioning due to emergency situations which include typhoons, volcanic activities, diversions and emergency landings, and other similar unforeseen and time-sensitive evacuations.

Airline crew members are also permitted to temporarily billet in accommodation establishments under a “bubble” concept supervised by the LGUs.

“For this purpose, the DILG is instructed to coordinate with all LGUs to align their health entry protocols for this limited purpose. The CAAP is likewise instructed to supervise and police the implementation of these activities,” the resolution read.

The IATF also authorized the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to set up a corporate jet flight maintenance and crew layover hub at the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone under a strict “bubble” concept.

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