EFEBangkok Desk

People not vaccinated against Covid-19 are banned from using public transport in Metropolitan Manila while Alert Level 3 or higher is in force, the Philippines government announced Wednesday.

In a statement, the Ministry of Transport said that the "no vaccination, no ride" order is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's movement restriction policies on the unvaccinated, which were previously announced to stop the rising infections as a result of the Omicron variant.

Those not fully vaccinated will not be able to use buses, trains or other public means, unless they have a medical exemption or need to buy or use essential goods and services such as food, medical services or utilities.

Last week, the authorities raised the alert to Level 3 (out of a maximum of five) and imposed lockdowns on the unvaccinated, with the view that they voluntarily refuse to be inoculated and pose a risk to the health system.

The same exemptions apply to them, although unvaccinated workers will have to undergo a PCR test every two weeks at their own expense.

Duterte last week granted powers to the district heads to arrest any unvaccinated people flouting lockdown orders.

Level 3 includes the prohibition of face-to-face education, sports that require physical contact, the closure of casinos and fairs and capacity limits on restaurants and other venues to between 30 and 50 percent.

The Philippines, which suffered two serious outbreaks of Covid-19 last April and September, had been registering fewer than 500 cases a day in December, but Omicron has triggered a surge that saw more than 28,000 cases on Tuesday.

According to data from Our World in Data, the Philippines authorities have fully vaccinated a little over 48 percent of the eligible population. EFE

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