Despite the voluntary use of face masks outdoors, the City of Manila will impose the “no mask no entry” policy at the Manila North Cemetery and Manila South Cemetery to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Reports said that the office of Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna will impose mandatory masking for visitors of the public cemeteries from October 29 to November 2, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Dito po sa atin, talagang ine-encourage po natin,” she said to reporters on Thursday.
Lacuna, a physician, said that the policy is in place amid the expected large volume of people that will visit their loved ones in the cemeteries.
According to the city chief executive, physical distancing is not enough to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19, especially since those without symptoms or asymptomatic can also spread it.
The health department said that individuals must stay at least one meter away from each other, which is nearly equivalent to a motorcycle’s length.
Lacuna said that even though cemeteries are open spaces, there is still a need to wear face masks and observe physical distancing for the protection of others.
“Since hindi maiiwasan ang pagdagsa ng dadalaw, ipatutupad ang pagsuot ng face mask sa loob ng sementeryo kahit na open space,” she said.
Manila South Cemetery deputy Manny Juan stressed that those who enter the vicinity will be obligated to wear a face mask.
For the Manila North Cemetery, director Yayay Castañeda said they expect visitors to reach almost one million this upcoming “Undas.”
Last September, the government made the wearing of face masks voluntary outdoors, provided that physical distancing is still observed.
It is set to ease the policy on indoor wearing as well, according to Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco.
The Department of Health said that if established, this may translate to 2,500 to 18,000 daily COVID-19 cases in the country, based on scientific projections.
Meanwhile, Manila’s face mask policy in two of its major public cemeteries was well-received by some Filipinos, given the presence of the more infectious Omicron subvariant XBB and the XBC variant.
“Dapat lang na mag-mask [pa rin], syempre uuwi ka sa bahay mo, tapos hindi mo alam na may nakasalubong ka na may ubo o sipon, hindi mo alam na dala-dala mo ‘yan sa pag uwi ang virus na ‘yan, mahahawa ‘yong mga anak mo, tatay, nanay mo na senior, [andiyan pa rin] ang COVID…” a Facebook user said.
“[Marami] po kasi ang tao nun. Kahit na open, para [sa akin] need pa rin mag-facemask. Di [naman] tayo sure na lahat vaccinated na. Mainam pa din may proteksyon,” another online user wrote.
“Tama naman [siya] ah, sa overcrowded, kailangan talaga mag suot ng face mask, hindi naman para sa kanya kung ‘di para kaligtasan ng kalusugan [niyo],” commented a different Pinoy.
Earlier this month, the DOH detected the presence of Omicron XBB and the XBC variant, which are both said to be more infectious than the Omicron variant.
It also said there is already a local transmission of XBB and XBC.
The World Health Organization said that Omicron XBB appeared to be “the most antibody-evasive” version of the virus so far, based on preliminary laboratory-based evidence.
SARS-CoV-1 is the strain of the coronavirus that causes SARS, a respiratory virus that caused severe illness from 2002 to 2004.
Meanwhile, OCTA Research Fellow Guido David said that the XBC variant “could be a concern” since it is a recombinant of Delta and the Omicron subvariant BA.2.
The Delta variant caused hospitalizations and death among patients, being among the most severe variant of COVID-19.