The Philippine government will allow children in shopping malls to attract family holiday spending and resuscitate the economy slowed down by the large-scale lockdowns.
Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the Metro Manila Council (MMC) will issue guidelines to ensure that children will not become “super spreaders” of the virus with the easing of policies.
“It’s really to invite families to visit the malls again because right now, even if we have eased restrictions, people are still afraid to go to the malls. And it has gotten to the point that we’re now worse off,” Roque said.
“All countries in the world are afraid of the virus. But we really are super restrictive in terms of movement, so we are easing the rules,” he added.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año announced Monday that minors in areas under general community quarantine such as the National Capital Region (NCR) will be allowed to go out to shop in malls for the coming holidays. They have to be accompanied by their parents.
“This will be laid out by ordinances by our NCR mayors,” Año said.
The policy drew mixed reactions from the public and some critics pointed out that this runs contrary to the prohibition against mass gatherings.
Christmas parties remain prohibited, but restaurants are allowed to accommodate 50 percent seating capacity.
Government officials have been stressing the importance of safety protocols against COVID-19, such as physical distancing and wearing of masks and face shields.
Health experts have earlier urged Filipinos to celebrate this year’s festivities virtually to avoid coronavirus transmission.
As the Yuletide season nears, the Philippines’ total number of COVID-19 cases breached the 432,000 mark, in which 25,725 are active cases.