MANILA — Minors in Metro Manila are banned from joining the traditional pre-dawn Christmas Masses or Simbang Gabi despite eased lockdown restrictions, an official said Thursday, as the threat of COVID-19 lingers.
The 17 mayors of the region earlier unanimously voted to disallow the underaged from going outside their homes for non-essential purposes, including going to malls, based on the recommendation of doctors, said Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jojo Garcia said.
"Definitely po bawal din sa Simbang Gabi [ang mga menor de edad]," he said in a public briefing."
(Definitely, they are also barred from going to Simbang Gabi.)
Authorities earlier shortened curfew hours in Metro Manila to 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. to give way to Simbang Gabi.
Metro Manila's 12 million people, along with 7 other areas, will remain under general community quarantine until the end of the year to prevent the spread of COVID-19, President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said.
Looser restrictions will result in higher contact among people, which could spur further COVID-19 spread, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said.
"Kung dumami ang bilang ng kaso ay posibleng mapuno na naman, ma-overwhelm ang ating systems capacity. At ‘pag na-overwhelm iyan, malaking problema," he said in a televised public briefing.
(If the cases increase, our systems capacity might be full, overwhelmed again. And if that is overwhelmed, it will be a big problem.)
Metro Manila, which accounts for about a third of the country's gross domestic product, has been under GCQ since August, with stricter lockdowns enforced in earlier months as COVID-19 infections rose.
The Philippines has tallied some 432,000 coronavirus cases in an unabated first wave of infections that has prevented the economy from fully reopening.