MANILA — Metro Manila mayors on Wednesday unanimously voted to disallow minors outside of their homes, including going to malls, despite eased lockdown restrictions, because of the lingering threat of the COVID-19, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jojo Garcia said.
In an interview on ABS-CBN"s TeleRadyo, Garcia said all 17 mayors do not want children aged 17 and below to stay outside their residence, citing the concern of public health experts, except only when obtaining essential services and goods.
“Nag-post kami sa Viber group, 17-0, negative. Ayaw nila… Ang mga experts na nandiyan tinanong natin. Nang tinanong natin ang experts… hindi talaga puwede, kahit gustuhin man natin. Ang uunahin natin ay ang health ng bata,” Garcia said.
(We posted in the Viber group, 17-0, negative. They do not approve... We asked the experts about this... They disallowed, even if we want to. We should prioritize the health of the children.)
While individuals aged 18 to 65 are the only ones allowed to go to malls, errands should be limited to doing the “essentials” such as groceries, going to pharmacies, and buying food, he said.
Minors, he added, would only be allowed in malls if their clinics are located there. Some of the exceptions include dental check-ups and medical treatments.
“Ang importante ay ang medical check-ups para sa mga bata. Kahit baby yan ay ma-check up yan. Allowed naman yan pumunta ng hospital or clinic,” he said.
Interior Sec. Eduardo Año on Monday said all minors in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) will be allowed to go out and shop in malls for the coming holidays as long as they are accompanied by their parents.
He stressed the importance of continuing practice of COVID-19 safety protocols, such as physical distancing and avoiding large gatherings amid the pandemic.
But Metro Manila's police chief Police Brig. Vicente Danao refuted this, saying minors remain prohibited in said establishments, and authorized persons outside homes (APOR) or essential workers are the only ones allowed inside shopping centers as the capital remains under general community quarantine (GCQ).
"'Di pa po allowed yan sa GCQ. We’ll be having a meeting with mall managers na hindi pa rin po i-a-allow yung pagpapasok ng non-APOR, kasi we'll be expecting an influx ng mga tao dyan sa mga malls and other places of convergence," Danao told Teleradyo in a separate interview.
(It's not yet allowed under GCQ. We’ll be having a meeting with mall managers on prohibiting entry of non-APOR because we'll be expecting an influx in malls and other places of convergence.)
The confusion also led the Department of Health to discourage children from going out of their houses as the Christmas season has started.
This, as some doctors and scientists said minors in areas with low risk of virus transmission may be allowed to go out.
Hours before Garcia of the MMDA announced the decision of the Metro Manila mayors regarding the minors, Año, in a statement, said, "If the Metro Manila mayors are able to come up with a common proposal allowing minors or children in malls and other public places, the final decision will still be with the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) and ultimately, the President."