MINORS are now allowed to enter malls for as long as they are accompanied by their parents.
The announcement was made by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año Monday night, Nov. 30, 2020.
In the weekly briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) situation, Año called on each local government unit (LGU) to enact an ordinance to support this new directive.
“Our order for the gradual expansion of the age group is in time for Christmas so that minors can also go out; provided, they are accompanied by their parents,” Año said in a mix of Tagalog and English.
National Capital Region Police Office Director Vicente Danao, however, expressed apprehension over the relaxed rules that would allow children to enter malls.
“To avoid the threat of Covid, it would be better not to do this for now,” Danao said in a radio interview.
In Cebu, business groups said they will abide by whatever decision their respective local government units would have regarding the issue of minors inside malls.
“Health is a great issue. It will be best to let the authorities decide on what’s good,” Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam told SunStar Cebu.
But Taguiam said businesses are relying on foot traffic this Christmas season to add to their Covid-hit revenues.
“Let’s all just understand. Let us follow the basic health protocols,” he said.
For Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu, minors going to malls accompanied by their parents while following health and safety protocols should not be an issue.
“For low-income families, it is better for children to go with their parents than be left at home unattended. Also, these children have needs like clothing etc. and they need to go out and see the world to help them develop a healthy mindset,” Yu said.
“Locked down at home for 9 months is not healthy even for children,” Yu added.
For his part, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan welcomed the DILG decision as “advantageous” to his city, which has been promoting a revival of its tourism industry after it was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
In Mandaue City, John Eddu Ibañez, executive secretary of Mayor Jonas Cortes, said as they have not issued any executive order or ordinance on the matter, the City will still not allow children to enter malls.
Ibañez said a study by Harvard-affiliated hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Hospital for Children, shows that children are potential super spreaders of Covid-19.
He said Mandaue’s local Inter-agency task force and the Emergency Operations Center will convene to determine whether or not to adopt the DILG directive.
Duterte announced on Monday that the NCR (Metro Manila), Batangas, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Iloilo City, Tacloban City, Iligan City and Davao City will be under general community quarantine from Dec. 1 to 31.
The rest of the country will be under MGCQ, the least restrictive form of community quarantine. (SunStar Philippines, JOB, KFD, FVQ / JKV)