With Covid infections in the Philippines hitting a three-month high, Manila city officials have banned the unvaccinated residents from leaving their homes except for buying essentials and going to work.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte issued a stern warning to the unvaccinated, threatening to arrest such “recalcitrant persons” if they violate a confinement order.
In a televised address to the nation today, Duterte declared that, as he is “responsible for the safety and well-being of every Filipino,” he has been forced to take a firm approach to people who have still failed to get jabbed.
“If he refuses, if he goes out of his house and goes around the community, he can be restrained. If he refuses, the captain is empowered now to arrest recalcitrant persons,” Duterte said, referring to those who fail to get vaccinated.
New Philippines capital city officials’ decision affects around 14 million individuals living in Metro Manila.
Under the new regulations, those who have not received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine are to stay home, with only a few exemptions granted: buying necessities and seeking medical help, going to work, and doing outdoor exercise near their place of residence.
Those working in an office have to take a COVID-19 test every two weeks at their own expense. Such tests reportedly cost $100 or more in some cases.
Places now off-limits for the unvaccinated include cafés, restaurants, and shopping malls, as well as all modes of public transport. People found in breach of the rules can expect to be fined to the tune of up to $1,000 or jailed for as long as six months. Moreover, according to media reports, violators may face both a fine and jail time.
The restrictions will remain in place until at least January 15, though that period may be prolonged if the number of infections continues to rise.
Metro Manila authorities explained the need for tougher measures by saying that “Despite the availability of vaccines, there is a number of individuals who adamantly opt not to be vaccinated,” with the unvaccinated eventually ending up “unduly burdening the healthcare system to the detriment of public health.”
Close to 70% of the metropolis’ residents are already vaccinated against COVID-19, yet the area saw a huge spike in cases last month, going from 24 on December 12 all the way to 2,600 on December 30.