UPDATED: GCQ 101 for Kids Under 18 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 16 years of age can and cannot do during GCQ

“Based on the omnibus guidelines released by IATF, persons below 16 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 16 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

It’s highly ill-advised and discouraged but kids nowadays as long as they are 16 years old and above can go around without supervision. However, kids younger than 18 must be with their parents at all times. Parents must also have their travel pass and swab test that’s no older than 3 days. If you’re planning to do a staycation in Metro Manila, that’s fine but watch out: majority of the hotels are currently serving as quarantine areas so always follow safety measures!

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, they can. But if it’s just diagnostics (i.e. x-rays, swab tests, and etc.), there are some places that offer home service like Hi-Precision.

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 NOT allowed to eat out… in some places

As of July 23, 2021, children aged 5 and above are no longer allowed to dine in alfresco restaurants in in areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ.

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 can now get a haircut!

Finally, our kids can now go to salons and have their hair fixed! At least, based on this report. No need for the old bowl on the head to do their bangs or cardboard hovering over their eyes to catch the pieces of hair. However, salons are only allowed at 30% of their capacity so it would be best if you either reserve early or stick to home services.

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:

Updated: Kids should be accompanied by one fully-vaccinated parent or guardian at all times

Although originally they can go out for only essential services, last July 9 — the IATF released an announcement that kids as young as 5 years are allowed to go out PROVIDED that they are accompanied by one “fully vaccinated” (meaning both shots) adult. All the more us parents should get our vaccines. We’re our kids’ free ticket to going out side! But the safe-areas designated might be different per city so you’ll have to check that too. Quezon City already released their announcements for that:

Kids ages 16 to 20 are still considered vulnerable

For kids ages 16 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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