GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The provincial government of South Cotabato has eased the curfew restrictions in the area in line with the upcoming Christmas holidays.
South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said Tuesday they have set exemptions in the observance of the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew to facilitate the participation of residents in the traditional activities related to the Christmas celebration.
He cited the “Simbang Gabi,” the nine-day dawn masses starting Dec. 16 leading to Christmas Day that usually draw thousands of Roman Catholic faithful.
“Worshippers and adherents of the Simbang Gabi are allowed to join and participate (in the activities), and shall be exempted from the imposition of curfew,” he cited in an executive order.
The curfew exemption was included in the governor’s Executive Order No. 64, which extended effective Tuesday the observance of the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Tamayo said the nightly seven-hour mandatory curfew will remain in effect in the province’s 10 towns and lone city for those not covered by the exemptions, which include health workers and other essential front-liners.
He said local parishes that will host the dawn masses are mandated to ensure proper compliance to minimum health standards, among them the wearing of face mask and face shield, and observance of safe physical distancing.
Under the MGCQ regulations, mass gatherings are allowed up to 50 percent of the venue’s capacity, he said.
Tamayo added that the conduct of traditional caroling ahead of Christmas, as well as holiday parties in offices, are discouraged due to the threats posed by the spread of Covid-19.
“It is imperative (for everyone) to be cautious and vigilant as the number of Covid-19 positive cases in the province has continued to rise,” he said.
The confirmed Covid-19 cases in the province since March already reached a total of 991 as of Monday night with about 90 percent or 897 of the patients have already recovered.
Of the 76 active cases, 38 or 50 percent are asymptomatic, 31 or 41 percent have mild symptoms, while the remaining seven cases or nine percent have moderate and severe symptoms. (PNA)