Metro Manila mayors reaffirm ban on Christmas parties, caroling
The mayors of Metro Manila comprising the MMC would issue their respective executive orders mandating the prohibition, council chairman and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez told Teleradyo last Thursday.
STAR/ File

Metro Manila mayors reaffirm ban on Christmas parties, caroling

Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - November 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Metro Manila Council (MMC) reiterated its plan to ban Christmas parties and outdoor caroling to prevent a spike in COVID-19 infections during the holidays.

The mayors of Metro Manila comprising the MMC would issue their respective executive orders mandating the prohibition, council chairman and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez told Teleradyo last Thursday.

“We agreed at the MMC that we will not allow Christmas parties at public offices,” he said.

“For private offices, we discourage them from holding Christmas parties because only 10 people are allowed at mass gatherings,” he added.

In areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) like Metro Manila, only 10 people are allowed to congregate.

Metro Manila mayors would also prohibit street Christmas caroling, Olivarez said.

For instance, he noted the Parañaque City government has set up a task force with the city’s barangay officials to help local police enforce the ban.

The local chief executives decided to impose the ban as active COVID-19 cases, or patients undergoing treatment and isolation for the disease, in Metro Manila were dropping, he noted.

The MMC has proposed to the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF), which handles the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response, to keep the GCQ status in Metro Manila until the end of the year.

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora, however, wants some quarantine protocols eased during the Yuletide season.

Zamora said yesterday he will ask the members of the IATF during a scheduled meeting with the MMC to consider easing quarantine restrictions to give more leeway to the public.

One of Zamora’s proposals is to further shorten the curfew to midnight to 3 a.m. from the current midnight to 4 a.m. to give Catholic devotees an opportunity to attend the traditional Simbang Gabi or pre-dawn mass.

He also wants the age bracket of people allowed to go outside their homes lowered from 18 to 65 to 15 to 65.

The Pateros government banned some outdoor activities during the Christmas season to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the holidays.

In his Executive Order 32 issued last Thursday, Pateros Mayor Miguel Ponce III ordered that outdoor Christmas parties involving more than 10 people be prohibited.

Paragraph B, Section 2 of the executive order said, “Christmas parties or any mass gatherings of more than 10 people in celebration of Christmas or any activity or program in relation to any celebration be it Christmas or otherwise outside residence including but not limited to one’s backyard, sidewalk or street” will not be allowed.

But it also noted “members of the same family may hold Christmas party or gathering in celebration of the Christmas season inside their houses or residence or indoor.”

The idea could be similar to the “bubble” concept, wherein a limited number of people would be allowed to congregate in a specific area.

Immediate family members living in Pateros would be allowed to hold Christmas parties in their houses, while other family members who reside in other areas would be discouraged from entering the town, Ponce said.

The same order also banned residents from conducting Christmas caroling and set up tiangge or temporary markets.

Violators would suffer 12-hour imprisonment on the first offense and could face charges of disobedience under the Revised Penal Code and confiscation of merchandise for those putting up tiangge, on second offense.

The ban will be imposed from Dec. 1 to Jan. 10 next year.

Local officials also adjusted the curfew hours from midnight to 3 a.m. starting Dec. 1.

More cops deployed

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has beefed up its presence in places of convergence in anticipation of an influx of people during the Christmas season amid the threat of COVID-19.

PNP deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, who also heads Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said they have deployed more security personnel to ensure that health and safety protocols are being observed in public places such as flea markets and transportation hubs.

The task force has deployed at least 61,458 personnel nationwide. Of the number, 54,427 are police officers while the remaining 7,031 are from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Fire Protection and Philippine Coast Guard.

“Dinoble namin ang mga (We doubled the) officers sa mga places of convergence,” he said in an interview with “The Chiefs” aired on Cignal TV’s One News on Thursday night.

Binag said they also have a reactionary standby support force of 35,253 personnel ready for field duty when the need arises.

He appealed to the people to strictly follow minimum health standards when in public places, adding they could not guard the whole country.

He said the police would not hesitate to apprehend violators.

Since March, the PNP has accosted over 562,000 individuals for violating quarantine protocols since the government imposed restrictions last March

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