METRO Manila Council chairman and Parañaque City mayor Edwin Olivarez yesterday announced that the rest of 16 local government units comprising the National Capital Region are bound to follow the example of Quezon City and cancel the traditional Christmas Party celebrations in their respective jurisdictions.
Interviewed by hosts of public briefing Laging Handa, Olivarez said leaders of all 17 LGUs in the council share the same problem of scrounging for enough resources to fund programs addressing the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quezon City mayor Joy Belmonte announced Tuesday that no Christmas parties will be held come December as all available funds for such festivities would be rechanneled instead to augment relief supplies for residents who were hit hard by the economic slowdown.
Asked if the rest of the council members will follow suit, Olivarez said all LGUs leaders have the same view.
“’Yung sa Christmas party po, iyan po ay gagawin po ng lahat ng LGUs sa Metro Manila.
Mayroon po tayong hinaharap na pandemic po na ito, ito po ang ating bibigyan ng priority (On the Christmas party, I think the same will be implemented by all LGUs in Metro Manila. We are all facing a pandemic and that is our priority),” he said.
He added that even other funding for projects and activities not considered urgent have been realigned to programs to control COVID-19.
Olivarez said there is no change to the plan of the MMC to enforce general community quarantine (GCQ) restrictions on travel, social and business activities for the next 30 days before making another assessment whether to relax or extend the protocols.
“Kung magtutuloy-tuloy po itong ating trend, ito pong pagbaba ng ating mga cases po at iyong recovery po natin umaabot na po siya ng more than 90 percent na recovery… palagay ko po hanggang katapusan ng October na ito. Hopefully, with God’s grace, nito pong darating na November baka mag-MGCQ na po tayo (If this trend on the decline of the number of active cases and our 90 percent recovery rate…we will see by the end of October. Hefully, with God’s grace, by November we can revert to MGCQ,” he said.
The Department of Health (DOH) said it is not against the reopening of the country’s economy just as long as the people will strictly adhere to the minimum health standards versus the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In virtual press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have no problem with more businesses resuming full operations for as long as the health protocols will be strictly implemented.
“There would come a time that, somehow, the slow opening of different sectors has to be done so our lives can continue. What we are saying is we need to learn to live with the virus. But there has to be behavior change for everybody,” said Vergeire.
“If only people would comply strictly with this behavior changes that we would want for them to have, we can actually open any sector,” she added.
Vergeire noted how the minimum health standard has been put in place precisely to prevent the transmission of the virus in public places.
“We we are careful, practice physical distancing, wear our face masks, wash our hands frequently, our chances of being protected from infection is very high,” said Vergeire.
Meanwhile, the provincial government of Batanes has ordered strict community quarantine restrictions in the entire province for 14 days, starting yesterday up to October 13, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in the province after recording its case of infection.
“Movement of all persons shall be limited to accessing essential goods and services and for work in the offices or industries permitted to operate. Only one member per household at a time shall be allowed to go out for purchase of basic needs,” the provincial government said on its Facebook page.
It said people aged 21 old and below and 60 years and above “shall remain at home.”
It said pregnant women and individuals with immunodeficiency, co-morbidity and other risk factors must also remain at home, unless “indispensable under the circumstances for obtaining essential goods and services or for work in permitted industries and offices.”
It said physical distancing of at least one meter should be observed at all times and wearing of face mask is mandatory.
“Mass/social gatherings including religious and non-essential work/social gatherings or events shall be prohibited. Sports activities including fitness and exercises are also prohibited,” it also said.
It said farming and fishing activities are allowed provided physical distancing is observed.
“All commercial flights to the province are temporarily banned. Only emergency evacuation flights and transport of swabs, in coordination with the Provincial Task Group, shall be allowed,” it said. – With Gerard Naval and Victor Reyes