MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Traffic jams and outdoor crowds are back in the Philippine capital and 38 other cities and provinces. Officials allowed businesses and public transport, including shopping malls, movie houses and restaurants, to operate at full capacity as COVID-19 cases continued to drop with more vaccinations. Authorities placed metropolitan Manila and 38 other regions under the lowest rung of a five-step pandemic alert system from Tuesday to March 15. They lifted most health restrictions, except for the full vaccination against the coronavirus of residents 18 and older and the wearing of face masks outdoors and in indoor establishments in a bid to further boost the pandemic-battered economy. Social distancing is no longer required in the specified cities and provinces.
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