Manila leaders call for restrictions to be eased for fully vaccinated

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The Metro Manila Council (MMC), a group comprising the 17 mayors in NCR and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), has asked the Philippines Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to consider easing restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to a report by state-run Philippines News Agency (PNA), the request is seen as an opportunity to encourage more vaccinations while boosting the economy particularly sectors that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic such as tourism and gaming.

Although such a policy would require an inter-agency and inter-disciplinary study to determine suitable criteria, MMDA chair Benjamin Benhur Abalos Jr. said, With the NCR being considered right now to be the epicenter of this pandemic and the region with the most number of vaccinated individuals, we are confident that we can find the right balance between safeguarding the publics health and reviving the economy.

A similar strategy was announced in the Australian state of New South Wales this week, which is currently in the midst of the nations largest outbreak since the start of the pandemic. With vaccination rates edging past 40% earlier this week, the NSW government outlined on Thursday plans to reopen many businesses to the fully vaccinated by mid-to-late October when the vaccination rate is expected to pass 70%.

PNA said around 56% of Manilas eligible population is currently vaccinated while 81.2% have received their first jab.

By next month, we are expecting that we will reach 77.57% or 7,601,685 of the total eligible population in the metro to be fully vaccinated, said Abalos. The more people who complete their inoculation, the sooner we can achieve population protection.

Metro Manila was to see lockdown restrictions eased this week to General Community Quarantine status but that has been delayed until 15 September to allow more time for the NCR to clarify its plans for granular lockdowns instead.