PH not yet ready for Christmas parties amid pandemic, but mall-wide sales now allowed — IATF exec

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 19) — The holiday season is right around the corner but a top Inter-Agency Task Force official believes the country is not yet ready for Christmas parties and gatherings due to the continued threat of the pandemic.

‘Di pa tayo ready na mag-celebrate ng mga Christmas party, siguradong baka babalik tayo sa spike,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, vice chairman of the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force, told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Monday. He cited instances in Europe where virus infections spiked when bars reopened.

[Translation: We’re not yet ready to celebrate Christmas parties, for sure we will see a spike in cases.]

Año said IATF members, together with Metro Manila mayors, are already discussing the COVID-19 response protocols needed for the upcoming Christmas season in order to properly manage the holiday rush.

He said the task force will now allow mall-wide sales, citing compliance of establishments in enforcing strict health and safety measures.

“Now the mall-wide sales, pinayagan na ng IATF na dati kasi bawal yung mall-wide sales,” the Interior chief said. “Nakita naman natin when you go to the mall, nagpa-practice ng social distancing.”

[Translation: The mall-wide sales, which were previously banned, were approved by the IATF. We can see that when you go the mall, people are practicing social distancing.]

Meanwhile, Metro Manila mayors are also discussing the possible easing of curfew in December to allow devotees to attend the Simbang Gabi, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority earlier said. The move will allow the holding of more masses to avoid crowding inside churches, it added.