Rules are not made to be broken.
One of the primary rules to prevent COVID-19 transmission is to never hold a mass gathering. Social or physical distancing must always be observed at all times. Participation in a mass gathering is a ground for imprisonment due to violation of the community quarantine protocols.
So it was expected that all hell broke loose when photos of the birthday mananita for Philippine National Police Chief Debold Sinas flooded social media last May 8. The cause of the uproar was simple. Nobody is above the law, hence, the enforcer of the law should be held liable for this violation. More than a month has already passed but every time Sinas issues a statement in line with his duty as PNP Chief, there is always a backlash.
At the other end of the pole, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto received admiration from the public when he issued a statement first thing in the morning of his birthday: nobody should attempt to stage a party for him since COVID-19 is still very much alive. It was business as usual for Mayor Vico who received the highest satisfaction rating among local government leaders in Metro Manila for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, based on a survey by RLR Research and Analysis Inc. from May 2 to June 2, 2020.
Mother’s and Father’s Day
The first nationwide family celebration during the quarantine was the Mother’s Day celebration last May 10. In the past, you have to make a reservation at least two weeks in advance if you want to treat your mom to fine dining on Mother’s Day. All restaurants were usually packed full on this day. For middle class siblings who have families of their own, Mother’s Day is a reunion to honor the matriarch.
Metro Manila was still under enhanced community quarantine during Mother’s Day. Only those with a quarantine pass who will buy essentials were allowed to go out. I wanted the day to still be special for my 83 year old Nanay Mila so I went out to buy cake. Food delivery was banned in our subdivision due to 29 COVID cases in a nearby village. I am proud of my homeowners’ association which implemented strict safety and health protocols that our subdivision remains COVID-free until now.
So I went to a bakeshop in Katipunan at 9:30am, 30 minutes early than the opening because I wanted to be the first in line. To my dismay, more than 50 riders were scattered in the garage while cars already occupied two lanes in Katipunan. When I took a number, I was 247. I immediately left. The safety paranoid in me reminded me that it was a high-risk area. Ending? I bought fresh fruits – mangoes and watermelon – along the road.
Tomorrow, we will be celebrating Father’s Day under a General Community Quarantine. More restaurants are open for pick-up and delivery. Some already accept dine-in clients but with strict physical distancing standards. Everybody should be one meter apart.
But for my family, we will still stay at home. For now, the safest place for my 70 year old Tatay Rody is our home. We will cook his favorite kare-kare and grilled prawns to celebrate Father’s Day. Dessert will be fruit salad. No more attempts to buy cake.
News reports confirm high COVID-19 transmission in gatherings. In Tanauan, Batangas, nine residents tested positive to the virus after attending a town fiesta last June 19. On the same day, nine of the 10 members of a family in Navotas tested positive for COVID after attending a celebration on May 19.
Health scientists say that the major culprit in the COVID-19 crisis is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods. Crowded events, poorly ventilated areas and places where people are talking loudly or singing, maximize the risk of infection.
The quarantine level may have been downgraded but the fact remains that COVID-19 is still very much alive. Staying home is still the number one prevention against the virus. Rules are rules.