THE Cebu City will allow limited visits to private and public cemeteries starting on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020.

Each cemetery management must only allow the entry of persons without exceeding 30 percent of its visitor capacity until Oct. 28.

This decision—reached by Mayor Edgardo Labella after meeting with cemetery administrators, priests, police and barangay officials and City Hall officials—allows everyone to visit the graves of their departed loved ones without sacrificing the social distancing protocol.

Mass gathering in public places such as cemeteries is still prohibited because it is considered by health experts as a superspreader of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Aside from observing social distancing, visitors must also wear masks and sanitize their hands before entering and after leaving cemeteries.

No vendors are allowed to sell food, candles and flowers in Cebu City cemeteries.

Labella said the City Social Welfare and Services Department will distribute sacks of 25-kilo rice and canned goods to 426 cemetery vendors and workers in the coming days.

Police deployment

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 will deploy teams to all cemeteries in Cebu City and other local government units in Central Visayas.

PRO 7 Director Albert Ignatius Ferro has tasked the Crisis Response Battalion to enforce the social distancing policy in cemeteries.

Checkpoints will continue as police officers make sure people are wearing masks and face shields in public transportation units.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has ordered the closure of all cemeteries, memorial parks and columbariums nationwide from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.

This was adopted by Labella and Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, who on Sept. 21 issued Executive Order 83-B adopting the IATF decision.

Labella, however, allowed priests and sacritans to hold mass in cemeteries on Nov. 2 with no audience.

Before the IATF released its order, Labella had issued an executive order closing all cemeteries from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. This move followed the same decision made by Metro Manila mayors.

In Mandaue City, Cortes’ executive secretary John Eddu Ibañez said all the access roads leading to cemeteries will be closed so no visitors can enter from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.

Violators will be charged for violating community quarantine protocol, said Ibañez. (PAC, AYB / KAL, KFD)