Social distancing no longer required?

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - December 2, 2020 - 12:00am

According to the OCTA Research Team, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country could well reach half a million by the end of this year. There seems to be no indication of a decrease or slowing down in the number of cases in the country. It even went up a bit in November and since December is upon us, the holiday season may well contribute to an increase or even a spike. The new cases are mostly caused by community transmission due in part to the opening up of the economy. This means with more people outside their homes more people are being infected particularly in large cities like Metro Manila and Davao City.

The mayors of Metro Manila have asked the IATF-EID to keep the metro under GCQ until the end of the year. President Duterte has already confirmed it. Caroling and office Christmas parties are likewise banned. Minors accompanied by their parents are supposedly allowed in malls as they prepare their respective holiday sales and attractions. Mass gatherings are still forbidden unless you are an official of the administration where it doesn't apply. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Sen. Manny Pacquiao are now the subjects of an investigation, after outrage on social media, for possible violation of minimum public health measures when they attended their respective events. Photos circulated on the internet showed crowds nowhere near socially distancing. Roque defended the event saying social distancing is no longer necessary if people are outdoors and wearing face masks and face shields. Unbelievable. If that is the case, then any number of people can now gather outdoors, watch a concert, and party anytime if they wear a face mask and face shield. What happens to the definition of mass gatherings?

It is surprising to see an increase in the number of cases when the majority of the population wear face masks and face shields. A plausible explanation would be crowds of people close to one another. This throws Roque's defense out the window but perhaps government officials don't need social distancing. You can be sure this would be a different story if these were ordinary people gathering around.

I will admit it is difficult to prevent Filipinos from getting together during Christmas, especially if they have not seen each other for a long time. It's just in our DNA to be together on Christmas Eve. DILG Sec. Año issued a reminder that gatherings of family members this Christmas would be considered mass gatherings, therefore forbidden. A warning that may well be ignored by many. Perhaps a negative swab test could be a prerequisite to getting together? It may sound funny but not far-fetched if only to prove one is virus-free.

What do you think?

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