MANILA, Sept 14 (AFP): The Philippines will ease coronavirus restrictions in the capital Manila despite record infection numbers, officials said Tuesday, as it seeks to spur economic activity.
Restaurants, churches and beauty salons in the national capital region will open at lower capacities from Thursday to get tens of thousands more people back to work.
"We should strive for total health and this can only be realised by carefully balancing our Covid-19 response by considering both the health of our people and the economic health of the nation," President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said.
Virus cases have surged to record levels-more than 140,000 cases in the past week-thanks to an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Metropolitan Manila will be placed on the second-highest alert under a new classification system that replaces guidelines that left many residents and business owners confused about which activities were allowed.
Localised lockdowns targeting specific buildings, streets or neighbourhoods will be enforced to check the spread of the virus, replacing the current scheme that covers entire cities and regions.
Fully vaccinated customers in the capital region can now be served indoors in restaurants and beauty salons at up to 10 per cent capacity, and at outdoor venues at up to 30 per cent capacity regardless of vaccination status.
Six out of 10 adults in Manila are inoculated, compared to 22 per cent of Filipino adults nationwide, officials said.
Churches will also be allowed to seat 10 per cent of their capacity for services but other indoor group activities, including those that lead to crowding, remain banned.
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