A different Christmas

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - October 23, 2020 - 12:00am

The DILG has decided to ban Christmas parties for this year. This is according to the rules of the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 which prohibits the gathering of more than 10 people in one place. All cemeteries will be closed from October 29 to November 4. It was decided that Metro Manila will remain under a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) until the end of the year, hence the respective mayors do not feel the cities are ready for a return to normalcy. The PNP will skip “lavish, overgenerous” Christmas parties in all its units and offices according to PNP chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan. I wonder how “lavish and overgenerous” past Christmas parties were? If we have Maj. Gen. Sinas' mañanita to go for, then your guess is as good as mine.

But malls are allowed to continue their mall sales as long as they follow the minimum health standards of wearing masks and physical distancing. I fail to find wisdom in that. I find it difficult to picture people practicing social distancing when out shopping during a mall sale such as digging through a pile of clothes and eating in fast food outlets. One cannot eat wearing a mask. We know during a mall sale people go to the malls in droves especially now when people are just eager to go out. And mall stores are enclosed places. It might be safer to gather outdoors such as cemeteries since the air disperses much faster. I know the economy is on everyone's mind but we need to learn from what is happening in Europe where countries that have opened up their economies are now experiencing a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. In the Czech Republic, the second wave is more severe than the combined number of cases during the early months of the pandemic. In Belgium, the number of COVID-19 cases is being compared to a tsunami.

What is not yet clear is whether families will be allowed to gather for the holidays. My understanding of banning Christmas parties is limited to companies and government agencies. It should be clarified whether the ban also includes the gathering of families. If there are more than 10 family members, is it forbidden for them to have a Christmas party? As Filipinos, we cherish family gatherings, especially during the Yuletide season. The Philippines has one of the longest Christmas seasons starting with the traditional "simbang gabi" and ending with the visitation of the Three Kings on the sixth of January. I can tell you right now, some may not have a chance to celebrate the Christmas season. Couriers may be hectic in delivering food and gifts, especially if parties among family members will not be allowed.

We cannot afford a spike in the number of cases. We just can't. Better to err on the side of caution, as they say. And having family members contracting COVID-19 during the holidays would dampen everything. We might have to contend with celebrating separately or by the now-regular practice of teleconferencing. That's if the internet will hold.

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