Mayor issues guidelines vs. Covid during holidays

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia is strongly encouraging everyone to conduct Christmas and New Year gatherings with attendees limited to members of the family living in the same household.

Work or non-family related Christmas parties or gatherings are highly discouraged, he said.

Virtual get-togethers and Christmas and New Year parties or gatherings held within the premises of one’s home are instead highly encouraged, he added.

The mayor stressed these in Executive Order No. 81, Series of 2020, setting guidelines for COVID-19 mitigation and compliance with public health standards during the holidays.

In the event that families not living in the same household wish to get together for Christmas and New Year, such gatherings must be held outdoors and with proper observance of physical distancing, Leonardia said.

In all cases, even if these gatherings are among family members, attendees should continue to be vigilant in applying standard minimum health protocols such as proper physical distancing, frequent handwashing and non-sharing of utensils, he added

Persons who are experiencing any signs of flu or symptoms of COVID-19, those who have been swabbed and are awaiting results, those with travel history for the past five days and those tagged as “close contact” of a person confirmed to have the virus even if he or she is asymptomatic, should refrain from attending Christmas and New Year parties, the mayor said.

As much as possible, there should be a person assigned to serve the food, he also said.

Avoid multiple people touching the serving spoon and plates. It is best to keep the number of people preparing the food to the minimum. Face masks and face shields should be worn when preparing, serving and getting food, Leonardia said.

Zoning within the household should also be practiced.

During a gathering and while eating, the elderly, pregnant or those with co-morbidities should stay in one area, while the younger ones or those who have high levels of exposure should stay in another area, he said.

It is important to practice non-contact such as touching, hugging and handshaking in greeting elders and other family members, he also said.

The mayor said if possible, people should also refrain from gift exchanges.

However, if extremely necessary, they should place disinfectants and rubbing alcohol nearby and practice proper hand hygiene before and after opening presents, he said.

If resources permit, there should be a back-up supply of surgical masks, face shield/eye protectors, and rubbing alcohol during the party, he also said.

The mayor is also encouraging the public to refrain from serving and/or consuming alcoholic drinks during holiday parties.

“Health and safety protocols are more difficult, if not impossible, to follow when there is too much alcohol in a person’s system. This applies to family gatherings conducted in a private setting as gatherings in public places are discouraged,” he said.

The prohibition on the public consumption of liquor remains, he added.

For garbage disposal, choose using open lid waste bids or pedal trash bins. Avoid touching garbage containers, he said.


Persons or establishments intending to conduct gift-giving must ensure that standard health protocols such as wearing of face masks and face shields and strict physical distancing are strictly observed, the mayor said.

Recipients of non-perishable gifts and packages are highly encouraged to wait at least 3-5 days before opening the same as the COVID-19 virus can still be present on the surfaces during this time, he said.

Also, recipients are advised to sanitize gifts they receive and practice hand hygiene after opening the same, he added.


Traditional caroling or the act of going house to house to sing Christmas carols is prohibited, he said.

It is only allowed when this activity is done virtually or through online means. Or by family members living in the same household and that the act is conducted within the confines of their homes, he said.


The conduct of the traditional religious activities such as Simbang Gabi, pre-dawn masses, Advent and Christmas masses, will be allowed provided that religious gatherings are only limited to the conduct of religious worship and/or service, the mayor said.

Religious denominations should strictly observe their submitted protocols and the minimum public health standards, particularly physical distancing measures and non-pharmaceutical interventions such as the obligatory wearing of face masks and immediate availability of hand hygiene necessities in the premises, he said.

Churches are encouraged to schedule more Simbang Gabi masses in different venues so as to reduce crowding of churchgoers, he added.


The mayor said the public is strongly urged to observe the following measures at all times:

*Minimize exposure with other people 14 days prior to your family gathering. If possible, quarantine yourself for 14 days before the gathering;

*Immediate family not living in the same household are advised to schedule their visits so the host can disinfect and prepare the home. Avoid overcrowding when visiting;

*Social gathering and activities are preferably limited to persons living within the same household. These gathering and activities must be kept as short as possible;

*Avoid activities that require travel to areas with higher quarantine classification;

*Avoid touching high-touch surfaces and ensure cleanliness;

*Ensure proper ventilation of the venue;

*Individuals vulnerable to disease, should limit their participation from social gatherings and risky activities;

*If sick, stay at home and avoid social gathering. Immediately report to the local health authorities if a family member is found to be a suspect or has contracted COVID-19;

*Increase physical and mental resilience; and

*Practice healthy eating.

All entities, establishments and persons who knowingly break any of the health and safety protocols set by the Bacolod City government, ordinances issued by the Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod, issuances of the Department of Health, Inter-Agency Task Force, and other agencies and in the process, endanger the lives of the residents of Bacolod City will face appropriate sanctions, the mayor said.*

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