AS much as we do not want to talk about 2020 and the pandemic, we have to be thankful for how far we have come since Covid-19.

Christmas then was dampened because of how many of us had to spend it away from our families. Due to movement restrictions, some of us were not able to visit our families due to travel restrictions (remember how we needed to get tested and secure other travel documents just to travel to see our family?). Others, sadly, had to celebrate it after losing family members due to complications from Covid-19.

Celebrations and gatherings were prohibited then to prevent a surge of Covid-19 cases.

Though 2021 was different as in-person celebrations were already allowed, you can still feel the hesitation of the public to hold big gatherings.

Well, 2022 feels different. The public now is more confident to meet and mingle with more people being vaccinated against Covid-19 and improved treatment against the disease.

On December 1, the city government of Davao launched its annual celebration of Pasko Fiesta. Dabawenyos from all walks of life gathered at the grounds of city hall to witness the Christmas lighting ceremony and the City Hall 3D mapping light show.

During his speech, Davao City Mayor Sebastian Z. Duterte also announced that the city will be adopting the policies of the national government allowing the public to voluntarily wearing of face masks in an outdoor or indoor setting. He issued Executive Order No. 71, S. 2022 on the same day.

Face masks are only required in Healthcare facilities, including, but not limited to, clinics, hospitals, laboratories, nursing homes, and dialysis clinics; Medical transport vehicles, such as ambulances, and paramedic rescue vehicles; and Public transportation by land, air, or sea.

The EO also encourages the wearing of face masks for the elderly, Individuals with comorbidities, Immunocompromised individuals, Pregnant women, Unvaccinated individuals, and Symptomatic individuals.

Making the wearing of face masks voluntary is already another step to moving on to a post-pandemic society.

The Christmas lighting and the new EO are somewhat symbolic in the sense that these are signs of better things to come. We are now confident to go out and meet, which is also seen to help spur the economy.

From 2020, 2022 will be a merrier Christmas for many of us.