Postponed weddings due to COVID-19 should be refunded, DTI says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 13) — Couples who opt to postpone their wedding ceremonies due to the coronavirus threat should not worry about not getting refunds.

The Department of Trade and Industry said Friday that those who have already booked hotels and restaurants for their wedding venues can run to the government for help if they are having trouble with the refund.

"Dapat ho may refund kasi force majeure po yun so wag silang matakot na 'naku paano 'to nagdown na kami tapos ayaw irefund?'" Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a media briefing on the coronavirus disease of COVID-19.

[Translation: There should be a refund because that is force majeure, so they do not have to be afraid, saying 'what will we do, they don't want to refund our downpayment?']

"Pwede po silang magfile ng compaint sa DTI consumer complaint 1384 hotline. Papanigan po sila ng DTI para magrefund yung establishment," he added.

[Translation: They can file a complaint with the DTI hotline 1384. The DTI will side with them so they will get refunded by the establishment.]

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said holding big wedding ceremonies are prohibited amid efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

"Timeless and boundless naman ang pag-ibig (Love is timeless and boundless anyway). What is a one-month postponement for love?" Nograles said.

RELATED: Richard Gutierrez, Sarah Lahbati postpone wedding due to coronavirus outbreak

However, Lopez stressed that the rites can push through under certain limitations.

You may now 'flying kiss' the bride?

Lopez advised couples to limit the number of guests instead.

"Ako ang tingin ko ang kasal, hindi po mapipigilan ang pag-ibig. Bawasan na lang siguro nila yung guests, makakatipid pa sila," Lopez said.

[Translation: I personally think we can't stop love. Maybe they should just invite fewer guests, they will save money too.]

Nograles said guests should be at arm's length distance from one another, but how can social distancing be observed by the bride and groom?

"Paano magkikiss ang couple (How will the couple kiss)?" Nograles asked. Lopez, at one point quipped, "flying kiss."

Authorities are still finalizing the guidelines for a 30-day community quarantine of Metro Manila, where majority of coronavirus patients in the country are confined.

Nograles said the government now prohibits mass gatherings, but events like wedding ceremonies have not been discussed.

The Philippines now has a total of 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including five deaths.

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who exhibit virus symptoms.