The country's Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has approved placing Metro Manila under Alert Level 1 starting March 1 to March 15.
Alert Level is the country's most lenient quarantine classification, with the move coming after NCR's COVID-19 positivity rate dipped below 5% for the first time since Dec. 26.
The Metro Manila Council composed of all Metro Manila mayors followed suit and unanimously voted that the capital region be placed under the laxest Alert Level stating March 1.
This will serve as the first time that NCR will be placed under the classification, as Alert Levels 2 and 3 have been in rotation since the announcement of the Alert Levels. Since the decline of COVID-19 Omicron cases, the capital region has been under Alert Level 2 status in February.
“This is what we call (the period) of no restrictions. But we are still far from that because this pandemic has yet to end. We have not reached an endemic status. So this Alert Level 1 is the new normal,” said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
Here's what to know about the Alert Level 1, the start of the "New Normal."
Who can go out?
Under Alert Level 1, intrazonal and interzonal travel will be permitted regardless of age and comorbidities. All establishments, persons, or activities may operate, work, or be undertaken at full on-site or venue or seating capacity given public health standards are observed.
All establishments will also be allowed to operate under 100% capacity as long as health protocols are strictly followed.
Are face masks still required?
Yes. Since public health standards are still in place, wearing face masks and physical distancing should still be followed.
"Well-fitted face masks should be worn properly at all times, whether outdoors or in indoor private or public establishments, including in public transportation, except when eating and drinking, participating in team and individual sports in venues where ventilation standards can be maintained, and in outdoor sports and exercises where physical distance can be maintained," said acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) has said that the wearing of face masks will be the last public health protocol to be dropped amid the pandemic.
Will I be heading back to on-site work soon?
It will depend on your employer. Though onsite private workplaces are permitted to operate at full capacity given vaccination requirements are followed, work from home arrangements are still subject to internal discussions "as deemed appropriate based on function or individual risk."
Meanwhile, government agencies and instrumentalities will start to implement a 100% on-site workforce, with off-site work subject to guidelines issued by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Office of the President.
How will this affect travel?
With intrazonal (going to places with the same quarantine classification) and interzonal (going to places with a different quarantine classification) travel now allowed regardless of age and comorbidity, aviation, maritime, and rail public transport will allow for full capacity.
Acrylic or plastic dividers will also no longer be implemented. Updated quarantine protocols for international travelers will also be implemented.
What are the activities allowed?
Alert Level 1 allows full capacity dine-in services, religious gatherings, and personal care services, among others.
Proof of vaccination is required for individuals 18 years old and above who will join mass gatherings and enter 3Cs (closed, crowded, close contact) establishments.
Here's a rundown of operational establishments and activities under Alert Level 1: