Minors in Metro Manila will remain barred from going outdoors, especially in malls, after the Metro Manila Council (MMC) unanimously voted to retain the restriction for those 17 years old and below.
In a virtual briefing on Thursday, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Arturo “Jojo” Garcia said the MMC, composed of the 17 mayors in Metro Manila and some national government officials, made the unanimous decision based on the recommendation of the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines.
Citing pediatric experts, Garcia noted that the danger lies with minors becoming asymptomatic carriers of the virus due to their strong immune system.
“At the end of the day, nung nakita nila opinyon ng expert, talagang nire-respeto natin ‘yan. Kahit na ‘yung mga dating may gusto, bumoto na rin ng ‘no’. Inisip nila ‘yung health ng ating mga minors (when they saw the experts’ opinion, we respected that. Even those who were initially supportive of lifting the restriction eventually voted against it. They were thinking of the health of our minors),” Garcia said.
The decision reinforces the current policy allowing only those aged 18 to 65 years old to enter malls and other business establishments.
“So, unanimous po, 17-0 mayors will not allow minors to go out. That’s why ‘yung ating general community quarantine (GCQ) guidelines na 18 to 65, ‘yun pa rin ang papayagan lumabas. Of course, for essentials, pwede naman (That’s why the existing GCQ policy of 18 to 65, they’ll still be the only ones allowed to go out. Of course, for essentials, it’s still allowed),” Garcia said.
These essential activities, he said, include entering malls and other business establishments for activities such as health checkups and buying groceries and medicine while following health protocols such as wearing a face mask, shield, and observing physical distancing.
Jogging, biking, and other non-contact physical activities for minors and senior citizens, he said, may also be allowed based on the decision of their respective local government units (LGU).
He reminded businesses, other outdoor establishments, and LGUs to strictly enforce the policy, noting that the penalty for violating the policy would depend on their respective LGUs.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año commended the Metro Manila mayors’ decision.
“I commend and I appreciate the NCR mayors for not allowing minors, initially sila ‘yung nag-brought up ng idea kaya nga sabi ko (they were the ones who brought up the idea so I said) you come up with a decision, it should be uniform, dapat isang boses lang kayo (you should only have one voice),” he told reporters in a phone interview.
Año said once minors are likely to become spreaders of the virus once they are allowed to go out.
“As for me, as much as possible, people should stay home, minors should stay home. That is my stand. Especially now that Christmas is just around the corner, the tendency of people is to go out. If you allow minors to roam, they can become unruly and they can be infected. They might even infect their grandparents who among those who are vulnerable,” he added.
Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander Lt. Gen. Hawthorne Binag said based on the Inter Agency Task Force Resolution 79, ages under 15 and over 65 are not allowed to go outside the house aside for essential purposes both in areas under GCQ and modified GCQ.
Under current guidelines in GCQ areas, a person below 15 years old and those above 65 years old, with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women must remain indoors at all times, except when obtaining essential goods and services.
Metro Manila, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Batangas, and Lanao del Sur, and the cities of Iloilo, Tacloban, Iligan, and Davao will remain under general community quarantine until Dec. 31.
All other places in the country will be under the most relaxed modified GCQ.
The Inter-Agency Task Force earlier allowed 15 to 65 years old to go out as the quarantine rules were eased as part of the preparations for the new normal.
Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office chief Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. reminded the public to abide by the rules in easing quarantine protocols to prevent a spike in Covid-19 cases for the holiday season.
Danao instructed all the district directors to coordinate with their respective LGUs and mall owners, managers and securities not to allow entry of unauthorized persons, especially minors.
The five police districts under NCRPO are the Manila Police District, Quezon City Police District, Northern Police District, Southern Police District, and Eastern Police District.
Danao said he has ordered increased police visibility in the streets, especially in places of convergence during the holiday season. (PNA)