Premature to allow minors in shopping malls, says Metro Manila police chief
MANILA, Philippines — If the chief of the Metro Manila police could have his way, minors would remain barred from shopping malls, despite the decision of the mayors in the metropolis to allow children to go out if they are accompanied by adults.
For Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr., chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), the local authorities’ decision is premature.
Vulnerable to COVID-19
“We are still under [general community quarantine, where minors] are barred from [shopping] malls. But the authorities have decided to allow them, as long as they will be accompanied by a responsible adult. Take note—responsible adult,” Danao said after a program at Manila Police District headquarters on Tuesday.
“But if it were [up] to me, I would suggest not to allow them yet. Because until the children and the older ones who [are vulnerable to] COVID-19 [are cleared], I would suggest that they avoid going to the malls,” Danao said.
In a radio interview earlier on Tuesday, the metropolitan police chief said only people authorized to leave their homes and essential workers were allowed to go to shopping malls. He said police officials would meet with mall operators to discuss plans for enforcing public health standards in commercial establishments during the holiday season.
Coronavirus measures at the start of the lockdown in March barred people under 21 and over 65 from going out, but the rules were relaxed in October after senior citizens protested, urging respect for their freedom of movement.
Police Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag, chief of law enforcement for the government’s coronavirus response, said on Tuesday that each of the 17 local governments in Metro Manila should pass an ordinance approving the mayors’ recommendation to allow accompanied minors to go to shopping malls.
“The recommendation of the mayors should be affirmed by a local ordinance. In our meeting, we are already preparing for the mayor’s recommendations and we have already coordinated with the NCRPO director to implement this,” Binag said.
On Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) appealed to the public to forgo visiting family and friends during the Christmas season to prevent a rise in coronavirus infections. The Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 also urged people to avoid indoor gatherings to prevent transmission of the virus.
On Tuesday, the alliance called on local governments to open up parks and streets to businesses so that people who couldn’t avoid going out would have the option of an open venue.
Dr. Antonio Dans of the alliance said local officials should provide open-air venues to help lower the risk of infection, as most restaurants and shops were located in shopping malls, where air is recirculated.
“If you would do something, it would be better to have it outdoors. Instead of eating in an indoor restaurant, let us support outdoor restaurants. Let us call on our mayors to open the sidewalks and allow restaurants [to use them] so that we have an option,” Dans said.
“Parks are open spaces where transmission is 94 percent less. We need ordinances so that these could be opened up and provide people a place where they can go,” he added.
Dans said the alliance had talked to a number of mayors about the initiative, but some of them were hesitant.
“It takes some political will to pedestrianize the streets. So write to your mayors as well as ask restaurants with porches to open these up,” he said.
On Tuesday, the DOH logged 1,298 additional coronavirus infections, raising the overall number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 432,925.
Ilocos Norte reported the highest number of new infections, 84, followed by Manila (61), Quezon province (55), Laguna (50) and Negros Occidental (47).
The DOH said 135 more patients had recovered, pushing the total number of COVID-19 survivors to 398,782. But the death toll climbed to 8,418 with the deaths of 27 more patients.
The recoveries and deaths left the country with 25,725 active cases, of which 84 percent were mild, 7.4 percent asymptomatic, 0.3 percent moderate, 2.9 percent severe, and 5.4 percent critical. INQ
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