Police commanders across the country were ordered on Thursday, Oct. 15, to help ensure that all cemeteries, memorial parks and columbariums are compliant to quarantine rules, as the early All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day commemorations start, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield said.
People are expected to begin visiting their departed loved ones early, especially since the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) ordered the closure of all cemeteries, memorial parks, columbariums, and other similar areas from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.
The IATF allowed the commemoration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day until Nov. 15, except on the dates of the closure.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, said the strict and proper observation of minimum health and safety standard protocols, such as the wearing of face masks and face shields and physical distancing, is non-negotiable.
“We leave it to the LGUs and the [Philippine National Police] to discuss the rules that would be implemented, but all the rules that would be crafted must be in consonance with what is prescribed by the IATF,” said Eleazar.
“On the part of the PNP, the minimum health [and] safety standard protocols are additional rules that should be implemented aside from the usual prohibitions like bringing of liquor and bladed weapons and other materials that would encourage mass gatherings,” he added.
Based on IATF guidelines, the number of visitors in cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbariums shall be limited to only 30 percent of the venue’s capacity, with all those entering required to wear face masks and face shields, and observe physical distancing.
Age restrictions, according to IATF guidelines, will not apply effective until Nov. 15 only.
The same guidelines order the closure of all cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbariums from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.
The JTF COVID Shield earlier instructed all police commanders to coordinate with their respective LGUs in the proper observance of Undas amid the still ongoing COVID-19 threat.
Eleazar said police commanders were ordered to set up assistance desks at the entrance of cemeteries and columbariums in order to properly monitor the entry and exit of people. The idea, he said, is to avoid overcrowding.
“We also ordered our commanders on the ground to coordinate with the LGUs for the deployment of force multipliers, such as barangay security officers and Public Order and Safety personnel, for regular patrol inside the cemeteries to ensure that health [and] safety protocols are observed,” said Eleazar.
Eleazar said that while there would be no age restrictions for those who would visit their departed loved ones, visitors should demonstrate no COVID-19 symptoms and should have no pre-existing conditions that would make them more susceptible to coronavirus infection.
He also appealed to the public to respect the rules and the persons in authority implementing them, and to exercise precaution for themselves in protecting their families from COVID-19.