The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has now allowed for more relaxed restrictions under Alert Level 2, permitting minors to enter malls, and schools to reopen with a 50% capacity for face-to-face classes in all degree programs.
Alert Level 2 was implemented starting Nov. 5 until Nov. 21 amid declining COVID-19 daily cases in the country.
Intrazonal and interzonal travel of minors in open spaces were allowed in October under Alert Level 3. This time, minors are also now allowed inside malls given that they are accompanied by a fully-vaccinated adult.
The move follows the news that minors aged 12 to 17 can be inoculated with Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines starting from Nov. 3.
Meanwhile, college students can also continue face-to-face classes at a 50% capacity under the lax guidelines. After almost 20 months of lockdowns, the Philippines remains one of the countries with the longest time that schools have been shut down.
Per Commission on Higher Education chair Prospero de Vera, participating colleges and universities must have a high vaccination rate for students and faculty, follow local government unit health protocols, and facilities must be retrofitted to follow the physical distancing guidelines.
Prior to the announcement, pilot testing of the face-to-face setup will begin in 30 public schools on Nov. 15. Most of the pilot run will be in Central Visayas and the Zamboanga Peninsula, with other candidates from Northern Mindanao, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, and Soccsksargen.
However, Malacañang says that widespread face-to-face classes won't happen automatically.
“There can be limited face-to-face but this would not be instant," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. "Face-to-face won’t resume on Monday. LGUs need to agree to this and classrooms need to be retrofitted."