UPDATED: GCQ 101 for Kids Under 21 Years Old

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This story is developing, please stay tuned for updates!

Since quarantine guidelines under GCQ or General Community Quarantine have eased up, we are seeing more and more kids outdoors. I, for one, am all about letting my kids going out for some much needed sunshine and fresh air since all of them are athletes, and being outside is really their thing.

However, there are some gray areas that need to be clarified regarding which activities kids are permitted to do outside of our homes. For example, are they allowed to go to the mall, eat out, go for a car ride and pass by a drive-thru, etc? 

My reliable source for all things COVID-19 related? Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, co-chairperson of the COVID-19 Inter Agency Task Force, or IATF, to answer these tough questions about what kids under 21 years of age can and cannot do during GCQ

“Based on the omnibus guidelines released by IATF, persons below 21 years of age are considered part of the vulnerable population, therefore they’re not allowed outside of their homes unless justifiably necessary,” narrates the Cabinet Secretary. However, the rules have changed several times as of this writing.

So, what’s allowed for kids under 21 during GCQ today?

Going outside to exercise, walk or jog is allowed

Only within the village or neighborhood, since this is considered an essential activity for their health and well-being. However, following minimum public health standards (social distancing, wearing of masks and face shields, washing/sanitizing of hands) is necessary. And they must be accompanied by an adult, preferably the parents. Still unsure? Cities like BGC have designated safe zones for kids.

Going out of town is allowed depending on where you are going

When GCQ started, kids were not allowed to go out of town. But recently, that has changed. For some provinces or municipalities, they welcome children as long as the safety measures are observed, and these could include: negative PCR swab test (usually within the last 48-72 hours), a travel pass, and they must be accompanied by their parents.

Staycations within Metro Manila are also allowed depending on the hotel you are checking into. And again, safety measures must be followed prior to checking in.

They are allowed to visit their physicians anytime

Based on omnibus guidelines, kids may avail of essential services as long as they are accompanied by their parents or guardians. So, it’s okay to visit their pediatricians, dentists, eye doctors, etc. If the purpose of leaving the house is for medical or emergency services, it is permitted. Minimum public health standards must be followed at all times.

Kids can visit their doctors, dentists, etc. anytime

They are not allowed to go to malls and department stores

According to this report, Metro Manila Police Chief Vicente Danao says minors are still banned. There have been different and conflicting information about this. But as of this writing, minors are not allowed to go to malls. You can also check with your respective LGUs for their official policy.

They are allowed to eat out… in some places

According to this report, mayors in the Metro Manila area have now agreed to allow children under 15 to dine in restaurants WITH their parents. We’ve personally seen children dining out at Power Plant Mall and BGC. However, IATF still cautions parents to minimize exposure of minors as much as possible, and again, please check with your respective LGUs for their official policy just to make sure.

They are not allowed to go to the grocery, supermarkets, pharmacies, etc.

Since kids are part of the vulnerable sector, there are stringent rules against unnecessarily exposing them to the COVID-19 disease. This should always be top of mind, parents!

They are not allowed to get a haircut

Yup, they can’t avail of any salon services (haircut, hair color, manicures, etc). It is impossible to comply with social distancing in these scenarios, so it is prohibited. But if your kids are starting to look a little unkempt, you might want to consider home services. But, please make sure you are observing minimum public health standards.

They can go on car rides around their neighborhood.

It is highly discouraged to drive to distant places with kids, even if you don’t have the intention of getting out of the car. In case of an emergency or car trouble, they will be left with no choice but to alight from the vehicle and risking unnecessary exposure. 

Kids are permitted to go to go out only for essential services

Other rules to remember:

Kids should be accompanied by one parent or guardian at all times

There is no specific rule on adult to child ratio when going out of the house. As long as as there is a parent present, it should not be an issue, especially if they are only going out for essential services.

Parents must accompany kids when going out of their homes at all times

Kids ages 18 to 20 are still considered vulnerable

For kids ages 18 to 20, even if they are adults, they are still part of this vulnerable population. But again, if the reason for leaving the house is valid, it should not be an issue. Keep in mind that some LGUs require persons leaving their residences to avail of quarantine passes. To be safe, follow the protocols imposed by your respective LGUs.

So what happens when you don’t follow the rules?

When asked about enforcement of these guidelines and policies, Sec. Nograles said “It’s up to the local government units or LGUs to enforce and impose corrective measures. They have their own ordinances that prescribe the penalties against violators. Aside from these guidelines, we also have a national law, Republic Act 11332 also known as Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, which also prescribes penalties for any such violations.” 

He goes on to add that compliance with the strictest possible public health standards of washing hands, social distancing, wearing a face mask and face shield is really a non-negotiable, and these precautionary measures are put in place to keep the children as safe as possible — not to make them miserable or to give the parents a difficult time. This is also one of the reasons why the Department of Education or DepEd, and the Commission on Higher Education or CHED, have decided to forego physical schooling. The goal is to always protect the children from exposure to COVID-19.

The rules were made with the children in mind

“I think these rules and the reasons behind it really have to sink in. Parents will do everything to protect their children, so we have to keep this type of mindset when we are deciding whether or not kids should go outside.These specific guidelines imposed by the IATF only has the best interest of children in mind. “

‘The state, as represented by the IATF, plays the role of a parent to all the underage children in the Philippines. Their actual parents and guardians, should actually go above and beyond the minimum prescribed standards by the state. I hope that parents understand that it not our intent to hassle, bother or disrupt their children’s lives.”

I have children myself, and there is nothing more I want than to protect them from this disease. I hope all parents out there think of it that way too. Please don’t look for ways and means to go around the rules or complain about them; they serve a purpose and that’s to safeguard and protect, as any good parent must seek to do for love of their children,” Sec. Nograles concluded. 

Parents, do what you think is best!

I fully believe that parents know best — especially when it comes to our own kids. That said, it is not our intention to dictate or tell parents what to do especially with matters involving their children. These guidelines are for information purposes only, and hopefully it has given all of some type of perspective. I think we can all agree that this has been a very confusing time for us and our kids; and to be frank, quite frustrating.

Hang in there, parents! We are all in this together. 

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