The Philippines will ease coronavirus restrictions in the capital region starting this week, in a bid to boost economic activity despite high numbers of new Covid-19 cases, the government said on Tuesday.
The restrictions will be relaxed starting on Thursday, under a new system being piloted in the capital region of Metro Manila, a sprawling metropolis of 13 million people, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Under the new system, only critical areas will be placed under strict lockdowns. In these, only health care workers and security personnel - or individuals with medical emergencies - will be allowed to leave their homes.
The rest of Metro Manila will be under an alert level that allows restaurants, barber shops, nail spas, salons and churches to operate at 30-per-cent capacity if services are offered outdoors, according to a guideline issued by the national task force on Covid-19.
Indoor dining, personal care and religious services are limited to 10-per-cent capacity, and only for individuals who are fully vaccinated, it added.
Curfew was shortened to only six hours, from 10 pm to 4 am. It currently lasts eight hours a day.
Entertainment and recreational establishments will still not be allowed to operate.
On Tuesday, the Department of Health reported 18,056 new Covid-19 cases in the country, bringing the country's total caseload to more than 2.26 million since last year. The death toll was up by 222 to 35,529.
More than 17 million Filipinos, or more than 15 per cent of the Philippines' total population, have so far been fully vaccinated.
The government aims to vaccinate up to 70 per cent of the population by end of the year, and up to 90 per cent by 2022.