Louella Mae A. Sas ||
Starting from February 1, 2021, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will ease the age restrictions in areas placed under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), which the Presidential spokesman, Harry Roque, announced last January 22. From the previous age restriction of 15 to 65 years old, the agency will now allow children aged 10 to 14 years old to go outside their residences. However, they can only leave their homes if accompanied by their parents.
For the areas still under General Community Quarantine (GCQ), the respective local governments would have to decide whether they would also adopt the eased restrictions. Moreover, the eased age-based restrictions mean that persons below 10 years old and older than 65 years old are still not allowed to go out and are required to stay home at all times except for essential activities.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) were the offices that proposed to ease the age restrictions to help stimulate economic activity. They explained that Filipino children have already been staying in their homes for ten months and that allowing them to leave their houses is good for their physical, social, and mental health.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez also stated that, based on their conducted surveys, business revenues could potentially double or triple once more people would be allowed to go outside. He said that this would prevent the closure of enterprises and job loss. It is also a way of helping businesses survive during the pandemic since economic activities would be re-stimulated.
Not easing restrictions would result in further economic deterioration; thus, the government needs to balance opening the economy and controlling the spread of the virus. The task force is then reassuring the public that health protocols would be strictly followed.
“As long as we continue to implement and comply with the minimum public health standards, kahit anong age ang lumalabas as long as compliant tayo, we are protected,”
DOH spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire stated.
Moreover, the agency clarified that allowing children to go out is not the same as letting them attend face-to-face classes since they differ in nature, intensity, and proximity.