Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government is yet to discuss if there should be rules on how to celebrate Christmas amid the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with State-run PTV-4, Nograles said that the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has not yet discussed the matter.
“Hindi pa po namin napag-uusapan yun. Wala pa tayong rules na ginagawa sa IATF about that. So wala pa po (We haven’t talked about Christmas yet. The IATF does not have rules about that yet. So there’s none for now),” he said.
So far, the government has prohibited the observance of the Undas season after it ordered the closure of all cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbariums in the country from October 29 to November 4 to prevent people from flocking to the said places during the pandemic.
The City of Manila also announced that the traditional annual procession of the Black Nazarene will likewise not take place due in January 2021 due to the threat of COVID-19.
However, the IATF has eased the restrictions on religious gatherings, allowing churches to fill up to 30 percent of their seating capacity to accommodate those who want to attend the Simbang Gabi.
Meanwhile, Nograles suggested that families and groups of friends take advantage of the available technology to hold get-togethers instead of risking their health to meet one another during the holidays.
“Dapat alalahanin po natin na mayroon pa rin tayong (Remember that we have) health and safety protocols when it comes to mass gatherings no. ‘Di pwede basta-basta mag-mass gathering (We cannot just simply hold gatherings),” he said.
“Pwede naman mag-Christmas party via online o Zoom or gagamitin natin yung technology o iba’t ibang online platforms para sa ating Christmas get-togethers (We can hold our Christmas parties virtually or use different technology platforms for our Christmas get-togethers),” he added.
For other gatherings, Nograles said that the public should remember the different do’s and don’ts and other guidelines. However, he said it would really be better if such events will be held online.
“Alalahanin natin itong mga maximum capacities pagdating sa mass gatherings at kung maaari, kung pwede naman, kung pwedeng mag-online, online na lamang para safe po ang lahat (Let us remember the maximum capacities when it comes to mass gatherings and if possible, just hold it online so that everybody will be safe),” he said.
The Palace official added that the government wants the public to celebrate Christmas without anybody getting sick.
“Gusto natin maging masaya rin kahit papano yung Pasko kahit mayroon tayong kinakaharap na pandemya (We want to make Christmas as merry as possible even though we are facing a pandemic),” Nograles said.
“Pero siyempre, mas magiging masaya ang Pasko kung walang mahahawa ng COVID (But, of course, Christmas will be merrier if no one will catch COVID-19),” he added.