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Alert Level 4? Here’s What You Should Know About IATF’s New COVID-19 Alert Level Systems

This new system is being implemented in NCR only.

After a year and a half of implementing different community quarantines all over the Philippines, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has yet again updated their classification systems. As of September 16, the National Capital Region (NCR) will be under granular lockdowns along with a new COVID-19 alert level system. 

Presidential and IATF spokesperson Harry Roque explained in a Palace briefing on September 10 that there will only be two quarantine classifications that could be imposed: enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ). (Read: What is the difference between MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ?)

However, he clarified that, this time around, the GCQ is different as restrictions will be based on alert levels assigned to the area. The alert level system will only be used in areas under GCQ, which will be placed either Alert Level 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 depending on the local government unit (LGU).


The new quarantine scheme aims to curb the COVID-19 cases while allowing businesses to reopen. Authorities see this change to be more effective in balancing health and economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, with many quarantine classifications being implemented, Filipinos are getting confused about the terms and restrictions. So if you’re as confused as we are, don’t fret! We gather fast facts and put up a guidelines on the new alert level system as per IATF-EID. 

Alert Level 1

Families stroll along the Manila baywalk on July 11, 2021. The Inter-Agency Task Force on COVId-19 recently allowed children ages five and up are to go outdoors, except in facilities such as malls, in areas under GCQ, GCQ with restrictions, and MGCQ. (Photo from Mark Demayo/ABS-CBN News)

The lowest alert level will be imposed on areas with low and decreasing COVID-19 case transmission, hospital bed utilization rate, and intensive care unit utilization rate. All establishments, businesses, and activities are allowed to operate at full capacity in accordance with minimum health standards. It will also allow movement of persons in businesses that fall under 3Cs: closed areas, crowded areas, and spaces that allow close contact. (Read: FAST FACTS: What We Know About The Lambda Variant)

Alert Level 2

A staff member of a restaurant walks past mannequins wearing face masks and face shields displayed inside a restaurant, to simulate seating arrangements when restaurants will once again be allowed to cater to dine-in customers, in a mall in Manila on June 2, 2020, a day after the government eased up quarantine measures aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in the country’s capital. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Under this alert level, COVID-19 transmission and healthcare utilization in the area is low and decreasing, but total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rates are increasing. Movement of persons is allowed except for restrictions based on age and comorbidities, which may be determined by LGU.

Dine-in businesses, personal care services, entertainment and recreational venues, mass gatherings, funeral services, meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibits, indoor tourist attractions, and government offices are permitted to operate at a maximum of 50 percent capacity. 

Alert Level 3

Photo from DOTr Facebook

Areas in this level have high and/or increasing COVID-19 transmission, including total bed and intensive care unit utilization rates. Movement of persons is allowed with reasonable restrictions based on age and comorbidities as may be determined by LGU. Individual outdoor exercises shall be allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status.

Businesses and activities allowed to operate at a maximum of 30 percent capacity are indoor dine-in, personal care services, indoor tourist attractions, indoor recreational venues, indoor in-person examinations, in-door sports venues, gaming establishments, in-person religious gatherings, funeral services, and social gatherings. (Read: Common COVID-19 Vaccine Fake News And Myths–Debunked!)

Alert Level 4

Photo from It’s More Fun With Juan

The COVID-19 transmission in the area is high and/or increasing and the total bed and ICU utilization rates are also high. Persons below 18 years old and above 65 years old, those with comorbidities, and pregnant women are not allowed to go out. However, they are permitted to go out to buy essential goods or services or work in permitted industries.

Medical clinics, make-up salons, wellness and therapy centers, tattooing and body piercing establishments, entertainment and recreational venues, mass gatherings, meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibits, staycations, and indoor tourist attractions are prohibited from operating. 

Outdoor dine-in services, barbershops, hair spas, nail spas, beauty salons, and physical religious gatherings are allowed to operate for up to 30 percent of their outdoor seating capacity regardless of vaccination status. They can operate indoors for up to 10 percent capacity, only for those who have been fully vaccinated. Workers in these businesses and services are required to be fully vaccinated.

Alert Level 5

People pass by a lockdown marker put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 at a barangay in Paco, Manila on March 18, 2021. (Photo from Jonathan Cellona/ABS-CBN News)

The highest alert level means the COVID-19 transmission is alarming and the total bed and intensive care unit utilization rates are critical. The areas placed under this level must follow the restrictions being implemented during ECQ. (Read: Here’s The Truth About The Delta COVID-19 Variant That You Should Know)

The government is aiming to pilot the alert level system from September 16 to 30 in NCR under Alert Level 4. The rest of the country will continue to follow the current community quarantine classifications: ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ.

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