The National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila will be placed under alert level 4, the second highest classification in the new lockdown scheme, from September 16 to 30, to stop the further spread of Covid-19.
"Yes, confirmed," Jonathan Malaya, undersecretary for the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), said in a text message to The Manila Times when asked about the policy shift on Tuesday.
Areas under alert level 4 have "high and/or increasing" Covid-19 transmission as well as high total bed utilization and intensive care unit rates, according to guidelines released by the country's pandemic task force on Monday.
Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Benjamin "Benhur" Abalos Jr. said curfew hours will be adjusted to 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. from the current 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, meanwhile, clarified that all authorized persons outside residence, or APORs, will be permitted to go around even with the lockdown.
Abalos said affected households will receive food assistance, alternately from local chief executives and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Individuals below 18 years old; citizens above 65 years old; persons with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities or other health risks; and pregnant women are prohibited from leaving their homes, "provided that they shall be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services or for work in permitted industries and offices."
"Intrazonal and interzonal travel for persons not otherwise required to remain at their residences in the preceding paragraph may be allowed subject to the reasonable regulations of the LGU (local government unit) of destination," the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) said.
Outdoor exercises will be allowed but shall be limited to the general area of residence and minimum public health standards shall be followed.
Visits to tourist attractions; meetings in indoor spaces; conferences and events; indoor entertainment and recreation; gaming, except those in establishments previously approved by the IATF-EID and the President; social gatherings; staycations; and sports and leisure activities are not permitted.
Outdoor or al fresco dining services, personal care services, and religious gatherings will be allowed for up to 30 percent of their seating or venue capacity, regardless of vaccination status.
Those indoors, meanwhile, can operate for up to 10 percent but shall only cater to fully inoculated individuals.
Lopez said public transportation will not be affected amid the imposition of granular lockdowns.
Necrological services will be limited to immediate family members, provided that they present "satisfactory proof" of their relationship with the deceased as well as full compliance with health protocols.
Government agencies and instrumentalities shall remain fully operational with 20 percent on-site capacity, with the rest under work-from-home and other flexible work arrangements.
Also on Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated its call against booster shots or third doses of Covid-19 vaccines for healthy individuals, including health care workers, saying there is no justification yet.
WHO Philippine Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said while they are looking carefully at evidence of possible loss of immunity of the vaccines, all vaccines that were given emergency use listing by the WHO remain safe and effective against severe sickness and even death.
Abeyasinghe added that giving booster doses, even to immunocompromised individuals, is also a complex issue as there is no proven study to prove its efficacy or safety.
He urged the Philippine government to increase its vaccination coverage especially among the elderly population.
The Philippines reported 18,056 new cases of Covid-19 also on Tuesday, pushing the overall total number of infections to 2.266 million infections.