'Iwasan muna ninyo': Duterte urges public to avoid Christmas gatherings amid pandemic

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 08 2020 12:19 AM

'Iwasan muna ninyo': Duterte urges public to avoid Christmas gatherings amid pandemic 1
Mall-goers pass by a giant Christmas tree at the Bonifacio High Street in Taguig City on December 4, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - With the yuletide season coming up, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged Filipinos to avoid Christmas parties and other gatherings this year to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.

"You have had so many Christmas blowouts and parties. This one Christmas, the only Christmas maybe, that government will interfere in your private affairs. You might think, 'this is too much, government does not control us.' Of course, we cannot control you individually, if what you do is what you want," Duterte said in a public briefing aired late evening.

"Would you be kind enough to skip the...festivities? Iwasan muna ninyo (Avoid it). Avoid it because it is for your own good and for the good of the community, and eventually, for the good of your own country," he said.

Interior Sec. Eduardo Año said earlier Monday that local government units and health officials, particularly in Metro Manila, are preparing the strict implementation of minimum health standards and quarantine protocols this Christmas season.

The Department of Health (DOH) last month said it's preparing for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines after the holidays.

DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III said the department will create a contingency plan that will enable health authorities and other officials to respond if a "post-holiday season surge" in COVID-19 infections occurs in the Philippines.

The DOH earlier implemented its Department Circular 2020-0355, or the Reiteration of the Minimum Public Health Standards for COVID-19 Mitigation during the holidays, to remind Filipinos to continue observing anti-coronavirus policies, like physical distancing, wearing of face masks and face shields, and frequent handwashing during Christmas holidays.

Under the circular, holiday activities such as caroling, shopping in crowded markets and shopping centers, indoor gathering with large crowds, riding in stuffed public transportation vehicles, and others that involve physical contact are discouraged.

Metro Manila mayors have also unanimously voted to disallow minors from visiting shopping malls during the holiday season.

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