MMDA chief Abalos favors downgrading of NCR alert level

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos on Wednesday said he personally favors the downgrading of Alert Level 4 in Metro Manila amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nakikita talaga natin pababa eh, magmula sa two-week growth, nagsimula ang pilot, 113%. Ngayon -41% na,” Abalos said in an interview on Unang Balita.

“Personally, dapat ibaba na po ang alert level.”

(We can see that the two-week growth rate of COVID-19 cases has really gone down — from 113% when the alert level system started to the current -14%. Personally speaking, I think the alert level should be downgraded.)

However, Abalos said he and the mayors of Metro Manila are leaving the decision to the Department of Health.

“Of course we leave that to the experts. Yan po talaga ang posisyon ng mga alkalde [That has always been the position of Metro Manila mayors],” Abalos said.

Alert Level 4 in Metro Manila is set to expire on Friday, October 15.

Areas under Alert Level 4 are those with high and/or increasing COVID-19 cases while total beds and ICU beds are at high utilization rate.

(READ: How the new COVID-19 alert levels and granular lockdowns work)

Meanwhile, to allow businesses to operate longer, Abalos said Metro Manila mayors have agreed to shorten curfew starting Wednesday — from the previous 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. to 12 midnight to 4 a.m.

Abalos said unless a new coronavirus variant emerges, Metro Manila is likely to have a merry Christmas considering the number of residents already vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Yung nababakaunahan sa Metro Manila malaki na, halos 77%. Pagdating ng Christmas [season] baka 90% na. Sana lang wala nang bagong variant,” he said.

(The vaccination rate in Metro Manila is already almost 77%. By Christmas season it might reach 90%. I just hope no new variant will emerge.)

As for the proposed reopening of cinemahouses, Abalos said he is talking with Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP) regarding the matter.

He said he has instructed the group to look into the protocols being implemented by other countries that have already reopened their moviehouses.

“We’re working out on this,” Abalos said. —KBK, GMA News

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