THE Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has ordered the closure of all private and public cemeteries, memorial parks and columbariums across the country from October 29 to November 4, 2020.
The task force also imposed a limit on visitors who may be allowed inside these facilities to 30 percent of the venue capacity until November 15, 2020.
All visitors are required to wear face masks and face shields, as well as observe physical distancing.
These are contained in IATF Resolution no. 70, which the task force approved during its meeting via videoconferencing on Thursday, September 17, and which takes effect immediately.
The same resolution also specified that burial and cremation activities during Undas, the Filipino festival in honor of the dead, will still be governed by community quarantine guidelines.
Under the Omnibus Guidelines for community quarantine, persons who died from coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) are cremated within 12 hours.
Only immediate family members may attend the wake or interment of a deceased who died from causes other than Covid-19.
The IATF policy on Undas was issued more than a week after Manila City Mayor Francisco Domagoso first announced that cemeteries in Manila will be closed during Undas to prevent mass gatherings in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several local government officials have since followed Domagoso’s example and announced the closure of all cemeteries and columbariums within their jurisdiction.
Undas is observed on All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2.
Filipinos, however, traditionally visit the graves of departed family members beginning the last week of October. Some families take the opportunity to hold family reunions during the holidays and even hold parties in the cemeteries. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)