IATF approves granular lockdown status in NCR starting Sept. 8 – DTI chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 4) — The Inter-Agency Task Force has approved placing Metro Manila under a granular lockdown status starting Wednesday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez confirmed on Saturday.

Lopez said the guidelines have yet to be finalized, but he shared in a radio interview with DZBB that only areas tagged as COVID-19 hotspots will be on hard lockdown while the rest of the capital region will be under the more lenient general community quarantine.

"Granular lockdowns will allow some more jobs to be back, those outside the hotspot areas," the secretary said in a message.

Although granular lockdowns have been implemented in areas within and outside Metro Manila before, Lopez said places surrounding the hotspots could have varying levels of restrictions (levels 1,2,3,4).

The locked down area may also just be a group of houses or a subdivision, instead of an entire barangay, he added.

Meanwhile, OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said the implementation of granular lockdowns should be matched with other interventions, such as mass randomized testing, more aggressive contact tracing, and early detection and isolation efforts to effectively curb the spread of the virus.

David added that a granular lockdown alone is not effective if the virus expanded its reach in a region, based on the country's past experiences during the pandemic.

"Our local governments will have a hard time in this set-up because of their limited manpower. For example, there are 100 barangays in a city and 10 of them only have cases, it will be easier to implement a granular lockdown. But if there are 90 barangays with cases, the local government will have a hard time dealing those because there will be persons assigned to man the locked down area and bring food there," Guido told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Weekend on Sunday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque later said President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to approve the granular lockdown implementation.

Earlier, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the IATF was planning to restrategize its implementation of lockdowns from wider quarantine restrictions to a more localized approach.