MANILA - Metro Manila mayors have unanimously voted to disallow minors from visiting shopping malls during the holiday season, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Thursday.
"I salute the position of the NCR (National Capital Region) mayors. I really appreciate their position," Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told Teleradyo's "On The Spot".
The 17 local chief executives in the capital region agreed Wednesday to only allow residents aged 18 to 65 years old to go outside, he added.
Metro Manila, home to more than 10 million Filipinos, remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines.
Since the pandemic began, it has recorded nearly 200,000 coronavirus infections, nearly half of the country's total tally of over 434,000, latest data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed.
Quezon City and Manila led with the highest number of COVID-19 infections in the country with more than 36,000 and 25,000 cases, respectively.
Año praised the mayors for erring on the side of caution amid growing evidence children could become silent carriers of the virus.
"It's Christmas [at] ang tendency ng mga tao ay lumabas, mag-party... According to the health experts, hindi pa puwede ang mga bata [dahil] sila ang mga spreader ng disease," he said.
(People have the tendency to go out and party during the Christmas season... According to the health experts, children should not [be allowed in malls] because they could possibly spread the disease.)
Minors can only be allowed in malls when accessing essential services, such as medical appointments, he added.
Año said law enforcers would also strictly implement health protocols in public areas and commercial centers to prevent the virus spread.
The Joint Task Force COVID Shield will deploy more personnel to increase police visibility in malls and local markets, he added.
The Philippines has so far tallied 434,357 coronavirus cases, with 8,436 deaths linked to the virus. Some 399,005 people have recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, but over 26,000 are still fighting the infection.