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Spox: Restrictions still tight as minors allowed in malls

Malacañang said yesterday that restrictions are still “tight” despite the reopening of the economy, including the decision to allow minors to enter shopping malls as long as they are accompanied by their parents.

In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that because several workers suffered losses, there is a need to allow more people outside to revive economic activity.

“There were so many who lost their jobs during the pandemic. While waiting for a vaccine, we need to live with the virus and we can do that if we take care of ourselves so we can work,” he said.

Minors are allowed to enter shopping malls as long as they are accompanied by their parents*

Roque said the guidelines for allowing minors to enter malls will be prepared by the Metro Manila Council and other local government units.

“It is subject to guidelines that will be crafted by the Metro Manila Council and other local governments. So we have to take care to ensure that minors won’t become super spreaders that’s why the basic requirement is for them to be accompanied by parents,” he said.

In a meeting with Cabinet members on Monday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año announced that the government intends to ease the age-based restriction.

He also acknowledged fears over a possible surge in cases during the holiday season but noted that the Philippines is among the countries with the most restrictive type of lockdown.

“The entire world is afraid of the virus and we have been super restrictive when it comes to movement that’s why we’re opening the economy,” he added.

While restrictions have been eased, Roque pointed out the need to continue implementing minimum health and safety standards.

“Restrictions are still tight somehow,” he added, noting that several leisure activities are still prohibited in areas under general community quarantine.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to extend the implementation of GCQ in Metro Manila, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Batangas, and Lanao del Sur, and the cities of Iloilo, Tacloban, Iligan, and Davao until Dec. 31.

All other places in the country will be under the most relaxed modified general GCQ.

Meanwhile, LGUs would have to enact an ordinance allowing minors to enter malls despite the government’s move allowing them to leave their homes provided they are with their parents or guardians, a ranking police official said yesterday.

“It should be justified by an ordinance,” Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, said in a radio interview.

“Aside from malls, they will also be allowed in parks because we should also give the children the chance to go out because this community quarantine has been going on in the past nine months,” Binag said. “But they have to be accompanied by their parents and this should take effect once an ordinance is approved by LGUs…”

The IATF earlier allowed 15 to 65 years old to go out as the quarantine rules were eased as part of the preparation for the new normal.

Despite the easing of quarantine restrictions, Binag said they still discourage minors from leaving their homes.

Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier said minors, particularly seven years old and below, should already be allowed in the malls as part of the government’s effort to revive the economy which was greatly affected by the pandemic.

He said the activities of the minors in the mall should be limited to buying their necessities and eating in the restaurants.*PNA

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