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Party people

After almost a year of absolutely zero activity for the socialites of the country, we were all finally treated to the party of the year that went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Self-styled “eventologist” Tim Yap hosted a party in Baguio, a city that was in the midst of a heightened alert status due to an upsurge in Covid-19 cases. What got the public’s goat was the photos of the party that circulated on social media, showing party-goers defying the minimum health protocols of social distancing, mask and face shield wearing.

To make matters more difficult to stomach for the rest of us who live in constant fear of being penalized heavily for any form of non-compliance with our country’s numerous Covid-19 protocols, the Baguio City Mayor who also happens to be the country’s contact tracing czar, was spotted at the event. That controversial party highlighted the great divide and disconnect between the haves and have-nots in this country.

The party of the year confirmed that those with money and power can pretty much do anything they want while the rest of us have no choice but to dutifully obey, yet still be blamed for where our nation currently stands pandemic-wise.

Yap defended his party by saying it was his way of promoting local tourism. He also claimed that all party guests tested negative for Covid-19. But without an established party protocol, there is no way of knowing if his birthday bash has the potential to be a super spreader event. If it it’s any consolation, perhaps the presence of the country’s contact tracing czar can assuage the fears of the worried Filipino masses.

If you come to think of it, it is understandable to see why some people are itching to party.

We have been stuck in our homes for too damn long already. If anti-social introverts like me are already feeling the quarantine fatigue, imagine how much more difficult it can be for socialites and extroverts. If we are to look at the bright side of such events, an argument can be made that our badly battered economy needs all the help it can get.

What the Tim Yaps of the world needs is a system that allows those who really want to party to do so, protected from infections by science-based protocols and from the judgment of those who see them as irresponsible by government rules, permits, guidelines, and taxes. There will be no protection from those who will judge them as excessive and frivolous but that is what socialites live for anyway.

In the interest of the economy, socialites, and the country’s healthcare system, it might be worth considering for the country’s contact tracing czar to recommend his pal to be appointed as the country’s party bubble czar.

A party bubble permit can be issued only to those who can afford it. Quarantines and testing will be required for all guests to enter the bubble. This means attending an authorized party will take at least six days of your time: five days quarantine + testing + party proper. After-parties are optional but allowed as long as it is within the bubble. It will be up to the party host if they will shoulder the cost of the quarantine and testing but if they can splurge on the food, decorations and entertainment; that should be part of the new normal party.

Aside from the guests, all of the service staff and suppliers will also be quarantined and tested. Those who cannot do so will be required to comply with strict no-contact measures to minimize any threat of infection.

Government will issue the permit as well as collect fees and taxes to allocate resources to ensure the integrity of the party bubble venue. Insurance (if there are any providers willing to take the risk) will be required to ensure that any “accidents” can be dealt with. This third-party auditor will also ensure compliance with all protocols because they will be the ones paying if something wrong happens.

Such a system will allow party-starved socialites to partake of their fix if they can afford it. Events venues and party suppliers will be able to do business. Government can collect fees and taxes. As long as a proper system is followed and no exceptions are allowed, parties can be held by those who can afford it, every —- day of 2021 if they so please.

Those who think that such frivolity is a waste of money will continue complaining and judging the socialites and social climbers, but it doesn’t matter because they will judge such parties whether or not a pandemic exists. What is important is everyone gets to do what they want to do safely because, instead of doing nothing and waiting for the sky to fall, government does its job and makes sure whatever science-based rules and regulations it comes up with are strictly followed.

However, because no such system still exists, not just for parties but for basically everything we do in our daily lives, almost a full year after quarantines started; party host Tim Yap and Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong are now in trouble.

Maybe it’s time our government officials and private sector advocates started sitting down to talk about how to make the new normal work.*

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