THE Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases has approved a recommendation to close cemeteries for five days during the observance of All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2) to prevent gatherings that may serve as coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) superspreader events.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday that based on the resolution passed by the IATF, all cemeteries nationwide should be closed from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2.
In Cebu, however, the three highly urbanized cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Cebu said they would stick with the cemetery closure dates they had already announced last week.
Año said gathering is limited to 10 persons per group and only 30 percent of the venue capacity will be allowed.
He said local government units (LGUs) may increase the visiting capacity to 50 percent if their risk assessment merits it.
But Lapu-Lapu City public information officer Mark Anthony Bautista said Wednesday that for now the City would stick to its Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 closure dates for all cemeteries and columbaria, though the LGU is looking to appeal to the IATF to allow the city to open these on Oct. 29 and 30. Outside these dates, from Oct. 15 to Nov. 16, the City had already limited visits to 30 percent of capacity.
In Mandaue City, John Eddu Ibañez, executive secretary of Mayor Jonas Cortes, also said the City would stay with its Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 closure dates announced in Cortes’ EO 35 that placed the limit at 50 percent of venue capacity for visits outside of these dates.
In Cebu City, Acting Mayor Michael Rama said his Directive 10-14-01 would stay. The directive keeps cemeteries and columbaria open for one-hour visits at 50 percent capacity, with only fully vaccinated persons allowed entry on Nov. 1 and 2. Visits outside these dates from Oct. 18 to Nov. 5 are scheduled and for those 18-65 years old only.
“The Nov. 1 and 2 opening will proceed. I had a talk with Secretary Carlito Galvez and I was telling him to bring the matter to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año that as far as our celebration, we’ve long been preparing it and we are only allowing fully vaccinated individuals to enter the cemetery,” Rama said.
He said there is a disconnect between the IATF’s placing of Cebu City under Alert Level 2, which loosens mobility restrictions in the city, and its move to prevent people from visiting their departed loved ones.
The mayor hoped the DILG and IATF would respect local autonomy, saying the City had been handling the Covid-19 response well. Cebu City had only some 300 active Covid-19 cases in the last 10 days. (SUNSTAR PHILIPPINES, KFD, PAC / CTL)