MANILA Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday said safety and health protocols will be strictly enforced in Divisoria especially during the days leading to Christmas Day even as he admitted that enforcing physical distancing among holiday shoppers will be a big challenge to the police and barangay leaders.
“Malaking challenge talaga, medyo mahirap pigilan ang dagsa ng mga tao. Kaya malaking hamon sa amin na bantayan ang mga pamilihan para panatilihin ang pagsunod sa public health protocols (It is a big challenge to us to secure the market places and ensure that minimum health protocols are being followed),” Moreno said as he and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan, along with Health Secretary Francisco Duque and other health officials, visited the city’s wholesale and retail shopping district.
He vowed the city government “will do our best, that we will continue to enforce the minimum health standard in the area.”
The local executive reminded the public to make sure they are wearing face masks and shields so they will not be inconvenienced while shopping for holiday presents in Divisoria.
“We must learn how to live with the COVID-19 pandemic, but at the same time, we must also learn how to go back to work safely. None of us wants to just set aside the sacrifices that we made when we were still under ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), MECQ (modified ECQ) and GCQ (general community quarantine),” Moreno said.
President Duterte has placed Metro Manila under GCQ the entire month of December to prevent a possible spike in positive coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases after the holiday season.
Moreno likewise appealed to Divisoria vendors to be responsible and ensure that their customers continue to comply with safety protocols while doing their shopping chores.
Duque echoed Moreno’s appeal. “Hindi ho kakakayanin ng national at local government lamang ang laban sa COVID kundi ang laban na ito ay nasa balikat din natin. Tayo po ang susundalo, ang bayanihan spirit, sa labang ito. Mag-bayanihan po tayo para magtagumpay tayo sa labang ito (The fight against the pandemic cannot be won by the national or local government alone. We also need you in this fight),” Duque said as he likened the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to a war.
“Kung may World War 1 at World War 2, itong laban sa pandemic ay World War 3 dahil pandaigdigan itong laban sa virus (If there is World War 1 and 2, then this fight against the pandemic is akin to World War 3),” he added.
Moreno said the city government has not allowed night markets to operate in Divisoria to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“The only stalls allowed to operate until evening are the vegetable vendors in Ilaya to Asuncion streets in Recto. But they have to be out by 5 a.m. so that by 6 a.m. so the road is already cleared for vehicles,” he said.
The city government of Manila has also banned the staging of parades and other religious festivities even during the Feast of the Black Nazarene and the Feast of Sto. Niño in January next year. Moreno did not also allow the holding of the traditional “Pahalik,” or the kissing of the image of the Black Nazarene, which usually draws thousands of believers to the Quirino Grandstand.
Data from the city government shows that as of December 2, there are 399 active COVID cases while 22, 187 have already recovered from the novel coronavirus.
The city also recorded a total death toll of 673, including 6 new fatalities. Likewise, there are still 910 suspected COVID cases, including 74 new ones.