DoH highlights limits of mass gatherings

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Crowds converge on the Dolomites beach in Manila on Sunday, October 24, 2021, prompting the health ministry to warn local government units to prevent such gatherings that could trigger another peak in Covid-19. VIDEO BY ENRIQUE AGCAOILI

The Department of Health (DoH) has urged local government units and other national government agencies to be more aggressive in enforcing health protocols.

The DoH made the appeal after huge crowds gathered on the Dolomite Beach in Manila Bay in Manila over the weekend.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported that around 4,000 people visited the man-made white sand strip, including parents who took young children away.

Under Secretary of Health Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing Monday that the number of people at the beach was well above the maximum limit of 50% for outdoor parks below Alert Level 3.

Metro Manila’s Covid-19 response classification has been relaxed to a more relaxed level 3 from level 4.

“I appeal to national government agencies: whatever the debates of the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases), whatever security protocols we are currently implementing, it’s for the good of our people, ”says Vergeire.

“Ang ating mga ahensya, may be responsible for preventing these mass gatherings, kung ganito lang ang mangyayari sa atin, babalik lang tayo sa dating paghihigpit at ayaw po natin ‘yan (Our agencies are responsible for preventing these mass gatherings . If this happens again, we will revert to the previous restrictions and we don’t want to), ”she added.

Vergeire said that while the government does not want the public to stay home forever and allow them to go outside to enjoy the sun and the fresh air, they should be wary once too many people congregate on external sites.

The huge crowds on the beach of the Dolomites prompted the Chief of the Philippine National Police, General Guillermo Lorenzon Eleazar, to remind the Manila Police District (MPD) to ensure that it does not become a site of super- spreading.

“Included in my directive [to the MPD] is to coordinate with the local government unit so that there is an appropriate system [for visitors], especially since we’ve seen people bring children through photos and videos circulating on social media, ”Eleazar said in a statement.

He also ordered the MPD to discuss with Manila City Hall and the DENR, which built and oversee the site, the possibility of limiting the number of visitors and their length of stay.

“We understand why some people are happy to come out of their homes because of the long lockdown we’ve had, but that shouldn’t be the reason everyone ignores health protocols,” he said.

He stressed that adults should not take children to the beach in the Dolomites, as minors are still not allowed to leave their homes below Alert Level 3.


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