THE Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday, December 5, 2021, warned over the conduct of in-person holiday parties amid the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) Omicron variant.

DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said holidays parties are allowed under areas Alert Level 2 and lower, but it should follow the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) protocol of 50-percent venue capacity with additional 10 percent on venues with safety seal.

He also reminded that attendees should adhere to the minimum health protocols, such as the wearing of face masks and the observance of physical distancing.

"Iyon po ang mga pamantayang kailangan sundin kasi kung hindi po susunod ang mga establishments na magiging host nitong mga Christmas parties na ito ay puwede pong i-revoke ang Safety Seal nila o kaya naman isuspinde ang kanilang business permit," Malaya said in a televised public briefing.

(Those are the standards that need to be followed because if the establishments that will host these Christmas parties do not follow, they can revoke their Safety Seal or suspend their business permit.)

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire cited the 13 people who were infected by the Omicron variant after attending a Christmas Party in Norway. It was the biggest Omicron outbreak outside South Africa where the virus was first detected.

"The virus is still here; let's continue to practice the safety protocols. Let's have that sacrifice first para sa kapakanan ng ating pamilya at sa kapakanan po ng buong sambayanang Filipino,” she said.

Department of Science and Technology vaccine expert panel chairperson Doctor Nina Gloriano also noted the importance of vaccination amid the Christmas season.

“Nandoon ang pag-iingat so merong mga party na mangyayari, ‘di maiiwasan 'yan pero maganda 'yung narinig ko na dapat lahat ng sasali doon ay bakunado at lahat ng magsisilbi doon sa party na 'yun ay bakunado and then you have the physical distancing,” said Gloriani.

(There is caution. Parties will happen, it’s inevitable, but it’s good that I heard that everyone who participates should be vaccinated and everyone who will serve at that party should be vaccinated and then you have the physical distancing.)

“Sana po maintindihan ng mga tao 'yung need for immunization. Sabi nga natin dahil sa mga variant medyo bumaba 'yung proteksiyon, pero it is still enough to protect you especially from severe form of Covid,” she added.

(I hope people understand the need for immunization. We say that because of the variants, protection has been compromised, but it is still enough to protect you especially from severe forms of Covid.)