Despite a WHO warning, the Philippines lifts the virus lockdown in the capital.

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Despite a WHO warning, the Philippines lifts the virus lockdown in the capital.

Despite record infection numbers and a warning from the WHO, the Philippines will loosen coronavirus restrictions in the capital Manila to boost economic activity, officials said Tuesday.

Restaurants, churches, and beauty salons in the national capital region will open with reduced capacity starting Thursday in order to re-hire tens of thousands of people.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said, “We should strive for total health, and this can only be achieved by carefully balancing our COVID-19 response by considering both the health of our people and the economic health of the nation.”

Due to an epidemic of the extremely contagious Delta variety, virus cases have reached new highs, with over 140,000 cases reported in the last week.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization’s envoy in the Philippines urged against loosening restrictions.

While six out of ten persons in the capital are fully immunized, the WHO’s official in the Philippines, Rabindra Abeyasinghe, told government television that “this is not sufficient at this point to reduce quarantine status.”

“If the present transmission levels continue to rise, it might overwhelm hospital systems, which is why we need to be very careful in calibrating how we respond to the current situation,” he warned.

Under a new classification system that replaces standards that left many residents and business owners unclear about which activities were allowed, the 13-million-strong city will be placed on the second-highest alert level.

To stop the virus spreading, localized lockdowns targeting specific buildings, streets, or neighborhoods will be implemented, replacing the present approach that covers entire cities and regions.

Regardless of vaccination status, fully vaccinated consumers in the capital region can now be served indoors at up to 10% capacity in restaurants and beauty salons, and outside at up to 30% capacity at outdoor events.

Churches will be allowed to seat 10% of their capacity for services, but other indoor group activities, such as those that cause crowding, will be prohibited.

According to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, a series of shutdowns since the onset of the pandemic has put more than two million workers in the food and recreation sectors out of work in the capital alone.

In the Philippines, where schools have been closed since the outbreak began, millions of youngsters began a second year of remote classes this week.

Classrooms may return after the warning level is decreased to the second lowest level, officials said Tuesday. Brief News from Washington Newsday.

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