Women take a selfie in front of a praying altar during Lunar New Year in Chinatown in Manila on Friday. Reuters
Manolo B. Jara, Correspondent
The government has allowed the reopening of more businesses such as cinemas, tourist spots like theme parks and museums to perk up the economy still suffering heavily from the adverse impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a top Malacanang Palace official announced on Friday.
Harry Roque, the presidential spokesman, said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases also approved the request of church leaders to increase from 30 to 50 per cent the seating capacity for religious gatherings effective on Monday.
Roque told a media briefing the IATF decision covered all areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) or lockdown that includes Metro Manila, the Cordillera Administrative Region in the Northern Luzon highlands, Batangas province in Southern Luzon, Tacloban City in the Visayas as well as Davao City, the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, and the provinces of Davao del Norte and Lanao del Sur in Mindanao.
But Roque pointed the reopening of more businesses and the increase in the seating capacity in all churches was still subject to the imposition of strict health protocols like the wearing of facemasks and face shields, observance of social distancing and the ban on mass gatherings to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The IATF decision likewise followed findings from a regional survey that the Philippines stood lowest in the approval rating of its citizens for the government response to the pandemic in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Results of “The State of Southeast Asia: 2021 Survey” showed that the 53.7 per cent of the Fililpino respondents “disapproved” and “strongly disapproved” the Duterte administration’s handling of the pandemic.
The think tank Asean Studies Centre based in Singapore said it conducted the online survey from Nov.18, 2020 to Jan.10, 2021. It involved a total of 1,032 respondents from the 10-member Asean composed of the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma).
Following the Philippines in the disapproval rating was Indonesia at 50.4 per cent and Thailand at 34.7 per cent, the survey said.
It added respondents from Vietnam, Brunei and Singapore gave their respective governments the highest approval ratings of 96.6 per cent 93 per cent and.92.4 per cent, respectively.
"It will be very premature and I think unrealistic to think that we're going to finish with this virus by the end of the year," Ryan told journalists. "But I think what we can finish with, if we're smart, is the hospitalisations, the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic."
Women took to the streets in peaceful democracies and in countries gripped by conflict, though in far smaller numbers than last year, when the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic had yet to hit the world.
Women and Child Development Minister Piyal Nishantha de Silva was among several politicians who consumed the concoction, but parliamentary officials said he had since tested positive for coronavirus and taken to a treatment centre.
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