police commanders yesterday were reminded anew to help local government units in ensuring that quarantine protocols in cemeteries, memorial parks and columbaria in their areas will be fully compliant with quarantine protocols specifically making sure that visitors wear face masks and face shields and social practice distancing to help prevent the further spread of the deadly coronavirus, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said.
The official said that PNP chief, General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan in particular issued the order to all 17 police regional offices as the early commemoration of the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day starts.
Eleazar particularly emphasized that the strict and proper observation of the minimum health safety standard protocols such as wearing of face masks and face shields and physical distancing is a non-negotiable rule that must be implemented during the pre and post-observation of ‘Undas.’
There are a number of cemeteries led by the Manila North Cemetery, La Loma Cemetery and the Manila Chinese Cemetery in Manila. Add to them the dozens of crematoria and columbaria and other private and public memorial parks outside the metropolis.
“We leave it to the LGUs and the PNP to discuss the rules that would be implemented, but all the rules that would be crafted must be in consonance with what is prescribed by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases),” the official said.
“On the part of the PNP, the minimum health safety standard protocols are additional rules that should be implemented aside from the usual prohibitions like bringing of liquor and bladed weapons and other materials that would encourage mass gathering,” he added.
Based on the IATF guidelines, the number of visitors in cemeteries, memorial parks and columbarium shall be limited to 30 percent of the venue capacity, with all those entering required to wear face mask and face shield and observe physical distancing.
Age restrictions, according to the IATF guideline, will not apply to all the visitors from September 17 until November 15 this year only. The same guideline orders the closure of all cemeteries, memorial parks and columbarium from October 29 to November 4.
Eleazar said police commanders were ordered to set up assistance desks at the entrance of cemeteries and columbaries in order to properly monitor the entry and exit of the people.
The idea, he said, is to avoid overcrowding of people inside in compliance with the IATF Guideline.
“We also ordered our commanders on the ground to coordinate with the LGUs for the deployment of force multipliers such as barangay tanods and Public Order and Safety personnel for regular patrol inside the cemeteries to ensure that the health safety protocols are observed,” he added.
Eleazar said that while there would be no age restrictions for those who would visit their departed loved ones, visitors should have no symptoms of the COVID-19 and that they have no pre-existing condition that would make them more prone to coronavirus infection.
“We in the Joint Task Force COVID Shield respect the Filipino tradition of honoring their departed loved ones. But this should be done in a way that will not compromise the health safety of our kababayan,” he said.
“That is why early preparation is necessary in order to give the LGUs, the local police and other concerned agencies come up with the best plan that would serve as a middle ground between the effort of the government to protect the people from infection and respecting our Undas tradition,” he added.
The Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander also appealed to the public to respect the rules and the authorities implementing them, as well as to exercise precaution for themselves in protecting their entire family from COVID-19.