The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Local Government Units (LGUs) to strictly impose the prohibitions on all forms of mass gatherings as Metro Manila and its four adjacent provinces were placed under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from March 22 to April 4.
DILG officer-in-charge (OIC) Bernardo C. Florece Jr. also directed the PNP to conduct strict border checkpoints in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan to prevent the entry and exit of non-essential workers and to enforce the uniform curfew hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. ordered by President Duterte.
With the expected inconveniences, Florece appealed to the public’s cooperation as measures are being undertaken by the government in the midst of the skyrocketing COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
He explained that the prohibition on public gatherings have been declared under GCQ with restrictions as mandated under Resolution 104 of the Interagency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).
The resolution states that all mass gatherings, including religious gatherings, are strictly prohibited and the holding of face-to-face meetings are discouraged.
In lieu of this, virtual meetings are highly encouraged with the holding of weddings, baptisms and funeral services still allowed but limited only to 10 persons.
“LGUs should immediately deploy their COVID-marshalls, Barangay Disiplina Brigades, barangay tanods (village security personnel)and other force multipliers to enforce the prohibition against mass gatherings,” Florece said.
The DILG official said that the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERT) should monitor the compliance with the prohibition in households within their jurisdiction.
“We ask the public to report incidents of mass gatherings in their barangays to the BHERTs and the police so that these can be acted immediately,” he added.
The PNP has also deployed some 10,000 police officers in Metro Manila to enforce the prohibition against mass gatherings
Florece stressed that the said LGUs should see to it that dine-in restaurants, cafes and establishments shall be limited to delivery, take-out and outdoor or alfresco dining only.
Alfresco or outdoor dine-in is allowed up to 50 percent of the venue capacity provided that acrylic or similar dividers are put in place with a maximum of two persons only per table seated one seat apart.
While current operational capacities of essential and non-essential services and industries are maintained, Florece emphasized that the LGUs should see to it that safety protocols and minimum public health standards are implemented particularly in communal areas like pantries, canteens and other similar areas.
He called on the LGUs and the PNP to deploy their field personnel and ensure that compliance on the temporary suspension of operations in driving schools, traditional cinemas and video-and interactive-game arcades, libraries, archives, museums, cultural centers, limited social events at accredited establishments of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and limited tourist attractions except for open-air tourist attractions.
“We have been through this before and we were able to limit the number of cases per day. We should be able to weather this second surge with public cooperation and especially now that the vaccines are already available,” said Florece.