National Task Force Against Covid-19 spokesperson Restituto Padilla on Saturday defended the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to allow 10 to 14 year-olds to go out, saying it is necessary to allow the economy to recover amid the continued effect of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Padilla said that the IATF took into consideration the recommendation of the economic team in lowering the age limit for those authorized to leave their homes.
“We acknowledged the opinion of our experts but the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emergency Infectious Disease has already made its decision for the adjustment of age restriction,” Padilla said.
He was referring to the warning issued by the OCTA Research Group that on the possible increase in the Covid-19 cases following the decision of the IATF to allow 10 years old to go out.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Saturday said that the Department of Health (DoH) will ask the IATF to reconsider its decision to allow 10 to 14 year-olds to go out following 16 cases of new variant of Covid-19 from United Kingdom (UK) were detected in other parts of the country.
“This was the request of our economic team to further encourage the opening of the economy,” Padilla added.
He said that despite the new IATF decision, the minimum health standard should still be observed.
In a Laging Handa briefing, Vergeire admitted that the opening of the economy is the main consideration for the IATF order to allow 10 years old to leave their homes.
“But with the new variant where at least three minors were infected, we are considering recommending to suspend the decision to allow children to go out so that we can prevent more infections,” Vergeire said.
The DoH has confirmed that aside from the first case of new variant from UK who traveled from Dubai, there are at least 16 new UK variant cases, of which 12 of these came from Bontoc, Mountain Province, including three minor patients.
Two other patients of new UK variant were overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from Lebanon who took Philippine Airlines flight PR8661 and the remaining two others were from Calamba, Laguna.
The new IATF ruling covers areas under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
“The new age bracket is only applicable for areas under MGCQ and not in areas with stricter quarantine rules,” he noted.
At the same time, Padilla said that despite earlier statement of presidential spokesperson Harry Roque that it is still up to the local government units from areas under the general community quarantine or GCQ if they will allow 10 years old to go out, he prefers that mayors await the order the IATF.
“Let just wait for the ruling of the IATF. For the meantime, let us follow the minimum health standard if we plan to go out with our children. Wear mask, face shield and avoid crowded places,” Padilla said.
In his briefing, Roque said that it is up to the Metro Manila mayors if they will issue ordinance allowing the lowering of age bracket for those who can go out.
“We have marshals who will assure that the people are following the health protocols, we are asking the parents to watch their kids if they decide to finally allow them to go out with them,” he said.
Senator Nancy Binay believes the IATF should rethink the easing of age restrictions for people allowed to leave their homes.
“There’s something wrong with the policy,” Senator Nancy Binay pointed out during a radio interview on Saturday.
“We do not allow them to go to schools or meet with their teachers to educate them even by a batch of five, but we are allowing them to go to the malls and department stores. It’s inconsistent,” she explained.
The country, she said, can no longer afford another lockdown considering its destructive impact on economic activity. (With Michelle Guillang)