SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 28 October 2021, Thursday |

Philippines loosens coronavirus curbs in capital region

Following drop in daily COVID 19 cases, the Philippines eased coronavirus restrictions in the capital district on Friday, enabling restaurants to accept more visitors and gyms to reopen.
The Philippines, which is dealing with one of Asia’s biggest COVID-19 outbreaks, is progressively easing restrictions to allow the economy to recover.

An alert level system first and small-scale lockdown system imposed on the capital region on Sept. 16 to allow for greater mobility and more businesses to reopen will remain in place up to Oct. 15.

Restaurants and personal care services were permitted to double their allowable operating capacity to 20%, while fitness studios and gyms were allowed to reopen their doors, but only to fully vaccinated clients.

“This is one step towards the recovery of the economy. People are enthusiastic about opening up,” Benjamin Abalos, chairperson of the capital’s council of mayors, told Reuters.

The capital region, an urban sprawl of 16 cities that is home to 13 million people, is the country’s coronavirus epicentre, accounting for a third of confirmed infections and one in every four deaths. Nearly four-fifths of the area’s population have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, government data showed.

The capital region is under a moderate risk case classification but intensive care utilisation is still under a high risk level, the health ministry said.

New COVID-19 infections in the Philippines have shown signs of easing, with confirmed cases averaging 1,700 daily in the past week from nearly 4,300 in the previous week.

The Philippines, which has nearly 2.5 million COVID-19 cases and 38,294 deaths, has the second-highest infections and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.

“Be careful, my countrymen, because COVID will stay here for quite a while,” Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said in a national address aired on Friday.