INTERIOR Secretary Eduardo Año yesterday said the Philippine National Police (PNP) has started making initial preparations to ensure the strict implementation of health protocols during the nine-day Simbang Gabi series on the run-up to Christmas Day.
Año, a key member of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), said churches nationwide can hold the traditional Simbang Gabi, including in Metro Manila following the decision of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) to further shorten the curfew hours in the National Capital Region (NCR) in December when the religious activity commences.
Mayors from the 17 cities of Metro Manila on Sunday agreed to shorten curfew hours from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. in support of national government effort to revive the economy. The Navotas City government retained its 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew due to increasing number of COVID-19 cases.
The decision to reduce curfew hours came as Metro mayors recommended to the IATF that the region stay under the general community quarantine (GCQ) classification until December 31 to control the transmission of the new coronavirus.
Año said the holding of Christmas parties will be prohibited in NCR companies.
“Under GCQ, parties are not allowed so our NCR mayors agreed to remain under GCQ but we’re easing some restrictions to support the economy,” said Año, adding that placing the region under MGCQ would could lead to more people attending social gatherings.
“If you shift (from GCQ to MGCQ), it’s automatic that the capacity of all activities will become 50 percent,” he said.
Año’s appeal was echoed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) as it urged private companies not to hold the yearly Christmas parties.
MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia said the agency will not have a party to celebrate this year’s holidays. – With Noel Talacay