The restriction comes as Catholics are expected to flock to cemeteries this coming All Saints’ and All Souls’ DaysUnvaxxed Filipinos banned from entering cemeteries – UCA News
Local officials in Lipa city of the Philippines get ready to check health cards of people as they visit cemeteries during All Saints and All Souls Day. (Photo: Lipa City Local Government)
By Joseph Peter Calleja Published: October 31, 2022 10:45 AM GMT
The government and authorities in the Philippines have prohibited unvaccinated people from entering several cemeteries during the observance of All Souls Day to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The Santo Tomas cemetery in Daet province, southern Luzon, and the Holy Redeemer cemetery in Benguet province, northern Luzon, have made it mandatory for visitors to carry vaccine cards to enter and pay tributes to their loved ones.
“Vaccine cards should be presented at the gate. No vaccine cards, no entry. This is for the safety of everyone- not just those who were not vaccinated but also those who have co-morbidities,” Holy Redeemer cemetery executive director Paul Monzon told UCA News.
The cemetery has coordinated with local government officials and the police force for the implementation of the policy in line with a memorandum released by the country’s health department.
The Department of Health recently urged Catholics to assess the health risk of the cities they were going to visit for the long holidays on Oct. 31-Nov. 2.
“Filipinos are expected to flock cemeteries this coming All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. Although the restrictions on wearing face masks have been eased, there is nothing wrong if we continue to be careful,” the health department advisory stated.
The department has urged to follow a checklist before anyone is allowed to visit the graves.
“The pandemic is not yet over. Hence, the public, especially those with comorbidities, should consider if people in the cemeteries and columbariums are fully vaccinated; if it is crowded; if it’s possible to keep a distance of at least one meter from others; if it’s an open-air area or if it has good ventilation; and if people can practice hand sanitation. But the safest is not to join the crowd on All Souls’ Day to avoid a super spreader event,” according to the advisory.
Two municipalities in Batangas province, south of Manila, have already banned minors from entering the cemetery on Nov. 1-2.
The province has recorded a rising rate of virus infection that forced its officials to ban children from entering cemeteries.
“We are recording almost a 15 percent increase in Covid-19 cases with 20 new infections per day. Thus, we have already banned the entry of children into all cemeteries. Adults must not bring their children with them in the cemetery especially children who have not yet received anti-Covid vaccines,” Alitagtag health official Remy Cruz told UCA News.
The Department of Health has recorded 20,824 active Covid cases with 1,297 new cases as of Oct. 29. Around 71.5 million out of 111 million population were fully vaccinated.
“A total of 1,233,017 children aged 5 to 11 years old have been inoculated against Covid-19 since the Department of Health started the pediatric vaccination on February 7. But still, if there is no need to expose them to the virus, why should we?” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a press conference on Oct. 31.
Unvaccinated families opposed the policy at first but backed off due to tropical storm Nalgae’s landfall in the Philippines leaving over 2,340 stranded passengers in Philippine terminals and ports.
“At first we opposed this idea because it’s our right to travel, but with this weather, perhaps, it is a sign that we should just celebrate All Souls’ Day at home,” unvaxxed Manila parishioner Karlo Pojol told UCA News.
Almost two million people were expected to travel from the country’s capital to celebrate All Souls’ Day, but domestic flights had been canceled due to the weather conditions.
Meanwhile, a Church official has advised parishioners to “just stay at home” given the weather and pandemic conditions.
“Let’s obey and follow our local protocols, especially with the vaccine requirement. Covid-19 is still with us. We can still pray for our beloved dead at home,” Caritas Executive Director Father Antonio Labiao told UCA News.