The Philippines government ordered casinos and other gaming establishments to close after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) recommended raising the COVID-19 alert level in Metro Manila from Level 2 to Level 3, to try to limit infections by the Omicron coronavirus variant that is spreading globally.
Alert Level 3 is in place from January 3 until at least January 15, 2022, with the IATF-EID predicting a spike in cases in the coming days due to holiday activities and reduced compliance with public health measures. The rest of the country will remain at Alert Level 2.
The government announced the latest classification adding that activities considered high-risk for transmission will not be allowed. Included in this category are casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lotteries and betting shops, among other gaming establishments “except those that will be allowed by the IATF or Office of the President”.
“We saw an exponential rise during the past days because of the holiday activities where there was increased movement and compliance with minimum public health standards may have been disregarded. Local cases of the Omicron variant were also detected”, Cabinet Secretary Karly Nograles said.
The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Philippines rose to 2,961 on Friday, up from double digit cases just weeks ago. Manila’s casinos were previously granted permission to reopen to the public at 30% capacity on October 16 when the government reduced the NCR’s alert level from Level 4 to Level 3. Casinos had been closed since August 6, although invited VIP guests had been allowed to enter from September 16. The Alert Level was lowered from Level 3 to Level 2 on November 5, 2021.