No one celebrates the Christmas season quite like Filipinos. As early as September, we know that local homes are decked out in colourful holiday decor. This is followed by holiday events taking place in just about every shopping mall in the country. Then, there’s Christmas carolling Philippines-style. But with the pandemic around, what’s to become of this merry tradition?
What the Philippine government has to say
In an advisory on 9 Nov 2020, the Department of Health (DOH) urged Filipinos to avoid Christmas carolling in the Philippines in light of the coronavirus pandemic. DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that loud singing could increase the probability of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
“Eto pong pagkanta ng malakas siya yung may yield na pinakamataas na virus na pwedeng ilabas ng isang taong infected,” Vergeire said in a radio interview as reported by the Philippine News Agency. “With that being said, mas gusto po natin na wag na muna sana ang mga ganitong activities.”
While her recommendation is supported by Sweden’s Lund University researchers, Vergeire leaves the decision to COVID-19 authorities. Particularly, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Online Christmas carolling in Philippines a possibility
Previously, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año recommended the banning of mass singing. This is because of the higher probability of getting COVID-19. “Singers have to remove their masks as they sing and viruses are released through aerosols,” he said in a separate interview as told by Manila Bulletin.
Until an official resolution banning conventional Christmas carolling is made, Año suggested online carolling as an alternative. “Kung magkakaroon ng caroling, online caroling na lang pero iyong personal at face-to-face sa ngayon, hindi pa nararapat,” he added.
Other Philippine Christmas 2020 safety measures
On 10 Nov 2020, DOH released a document entitled Department Circular on Minimum Public Health Standards (MPHS) for COVID-19 Mitigation during the Holidays. Here, the government body listed the preventive measures Filipinos should take during the Christmas 2020 celebrations in the Philippines.
Among the measures mentioned include limiting the number of participants in social gatherings, avoiding going to places with higher quarantine restrictions, keeping activities short, implementing proper ventilation of a venue, as well as wearing masks, physical distancing, and regular disinfection.
In place of physical activities, DOH also recommends video teleconferencing rather than in-person gatherings, attending online masses instead of going to enclosed places of worship, and online shopping for presents as opposed to going to malls and stores.
Featured image credit: Ervin Malicdem | Wikimedia Commons