Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles reminded those living in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) that mass gatherings are still prohibited, thus, Christmas events like parties and family get-togethers will still be limited to 10 people.
Nograles made the statement days before President Duterte announces Monday the new quarantine classifications for the month of December and as people wonder how to celebrate Christmas under the new normal.
In an interview with State-run PTV-4, Nograles said the government understands if people would want to continue with their traditions this coming holiday season but reminded them that COVID-19 is still around and that there are rules to follow.
“Siyempre naiintindihan natin paano ‘yung Pasko. Eh, tuloy pa naman po ang Pasko, hahanap lang po tayo ng diskarte na safe ang lahat (We understand that it’s Christmas. Christmas will push through, we just have to find ways where everyone will be safe),” he said.
Nograles said that the Department of Health (DoH) had already issued guidelines on gatherings and for areas under the GCQ like the National Capital Region (NCR), gatherings are limited to 10 people.
“Kailangan well-ventilated. Kung maaari, naka-mask. Of course, ine-encourage natin na same household pero siyempre kung may bibisita man, hindi dapat hihigit sa sampu (The area needs to be well-ventilated and if possible, wear masks. Of course, we encourage that we limit the celebration to the people in that household but if you’re going to accept guests, you should not exceed 10 people),” he said.
“Hugas ng kamay, social distancing, tapos kung kakain kung maaari huwag buffet style. Kanya-kanyang plato, utensils, baso (Wash your hands, keep your distance, and if your meal should not be buffer style. Bring your own plates, utensils, and cups),” he added.
For modified GCQ (MGCQ) areas, Nograles said the venue should not exceed 50 percent of its capacity but the government appeals to limit an event to just 50 people.
According to Nograles, the government acknowledges that this year’s Christmas celebration will be different because of the pandemic.
While many Christmas traditions will have to take the backseat, the Palace official said that the people should realize that it is for their own safety.
“Ngayong Pasko (This Christmas), talagang bagong karanasan ito, it will be a new experience for everybody,” he said.
“Maaaring maraming tradisyon ang hindi magagawa, pero isipin na lang natin na gagawa tayo ng panibagong tradisyon, practices basta i-ensure lang po natin na ligtas ang lahat (We may not be able to do most of our traditions but let’s just think that we are creating new traditions and practices that would ensure everyone’s safety),” he added.
Meanwhile, Nograles said that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases already has its recommendations for next month’s quarantine classifications. However, he said it will still be up to Duterte.
Nograles co-chairs the IATF.
“Si Pangulo po ang ultimately ang magdedesisyon kung ano yung magiging community quarantines natin sa iba’t ibang LGUs sa buong bansa mula Dec. 1 hanggang Dec. 31 (It’s the President who ill decide what are the community quarantines of the different local government units in the country for December),” he said.
National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said last Thursday that Metro Manila mayors have thumbed down a possible shift to the MGCQ in December to avoid a spoke in the number of COVID-19 cases in the NCR.