Malls, parks, churches, cemeteries, and other public places saw a surge of customers and visitors on Sunday, as Filipinos itching to get out of their houses due to pandemic restrictions enjoyed the first weekend under Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila.
More residents of the National Capital Region went out of their homes on the first Sunday after going down from Alert Level 4, even visiting the dolomite beach at the Baywalk by the Manila Bay, according to reports aired and heard over Dobol B TV.
Coinciding with this, Metro Manila mayors said they would release "very soon" a resolution clarifying the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force Against COVID-19 on allowing children outside their homes, San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora told ABS-CBN TeleRadyo.
Children aged 17 and below are allowed to go outside to buy food and medicine, visit a doctor or a dentist, and exercise or avail themselves of interzonal and intrazonal travel, Zamora said, citing the IATF resolution.
Zamora told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo children would remain prohibited in malls, adding: “But they can't dine in because that will already require them to remove their mask and eat among a group of people in a restaurant. This increases risk of infection.
“We didn't allow that just yet and the Metro Manila Council agreed on this.”
Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos, in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB, said he might hold a press briefing on Monday about the resolution and the mobility of children.
Local governments only have a say in the interzonal and intrazonal travel of children, he said, citing the IATF resolution.
The government previously barred children from leaving their homes as some experts said they might become "superspreaders." It has since allowed limited in-person classes and began the COVID-19 vaccination of children with comorbidities.
Meanwhile, residents went to Marikina River Park early Sunday to enjoy the sunny weather outdoors and exercise, according to a report on Dobol B TV.
Fitness enthusiasts also went to the road dike at Batasan in Quezon City to exercise outdoors, according to Makalalad's post on Twitter.
At the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City near Manila Bay, there were more people walking and biking, eager to breathe fresh air, according to a report by Mao dela Cruz on Dobol B TV.
Security guards used headcount counters to limit the persons within the Baywalk area at any one time to about 1,000, with excess visitors asked to wait by the gate for others to leave before being let in.
At the St. Peter Parish: Shrine of Leaders on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, parishioners attended Mass, prayed, and lit candles, a report on Dobol B TV said.
The church implements a "no face mask/no face shield, no entry" policy.
A COVID-19 marshal went around to remind parishioners to observe health and safety protocols.
Long lines of cars also made their way into the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina and the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque, as people visited their departed loved ones ahead of the planned closure of cemeteries in the NCR by November 1 and 2, All Saints and All Souls Day.
Under Alert Level 3, in-person religious gatherings are allowed up to 30 percent indoor capacity for fully vaccinated individuals, and up to 50 percent outdoor venue capacity, provided that all employees are fully vaccinated.
Metro Manila, home to around 13.5 million people, is under Alert Level 3 until the end of the month, as granular lockdowns are being implemented in the region to curb the spread of the disease and gradually revive business activities.
At the dolomite beach at the Baywalk beside Manila Bay, visitors gathered early at the gate, according to a report by Luisito Santos on Dobol B TV.
Although the beach is supposed to open at 8 a.m., the gate was opened as early as 6 a.m. to accommodate those wanting to check out the attraction.
More visitors were observed on Sunday as compared to Saturday when the dolomite beach was first reopened to the public.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources expressed elation over the strong public reception of the Manila Bay dolomite beach when it reopened to the public on Saturday.
“We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the public which made the reopening of the Manila Bay dolomite beach truly successful,” Secretary Roy Cimatu said.
“We will gradually expand the area accessible to the public for viewing in the coming weeks as we progress on with the completion of the project,” he added.
DENR personnel and security marshals made sure that health and safety protocols were strictly observed.
The public got its first experience of the dolomite beach when it briefly opened from July 18 to 21.
The 140-meter beach area comprises the phase 1 of the Manila Bay beach nourishment project of DENR.
The reopening of the dolomite beach was a collective decision of the Manila Bay Inter-Agency Task Force headed by Cimatu, following the downgrading of the COVID-19 alert level in the National Capital Region.
Aside from promoting positive mental health, Cimatu said the dolomite beach was offering another option to view the scenic Manila Bay sunset aside from the customary sunset view at the Baywalk portion near Remedios Street in Malate, Manila.
Cimatu said visitors might stay as long as they wanted to, while the limit of 300 individuals would have to be observed during the adjusted open hours from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
There is no need for people to be vaccinated to enter the premises, but wearing of face masks is mandatory, Cimatu said.
He said the use of a face shield was optional.
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