GenSan lifts more restrictions ahead of Christmas holidays

General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The city government has lifted the movement restrictions here every Sunday and shortened the curfew hours amid the improving situation of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections in the area.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera on Wednesday said the City Inter-Agency Task Force (CIATF) for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases decided to recall the lockdown or “no movement” every Sunday and adjusted the nightly curfew for the upcoming “Simbang Gabi” and other traditional Christmas-related activities.

As decided by the task force in a meeting on Tuesday, the lifting of the Sunday lockdown will start on Dec. 6.

The curfew will remain in effect from 12 p.m. to 4 a.m. but will be trimmed until 2 a.m. for the start of the “Simbang Gabi” or dawn masses on Dec. 16.

The observance of the curfew will be suspended on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31).

“This is to give our residents enough time to prepare for the Christmas celebration and participate in the traditional activities,” Rivera told reporters.

He said another executive order will be issued within the week to formalize the lifting of the Sunday lockdown and the adjustment of the curfew hours.

The CIATF earlier considered to further ease the movement restrictions here during the Christmas holidays as it noted significant gains in efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 in the area.

Since last month, the active cases in the city have dropped to below 200 while the occupancy rate in local hospitals catering to Covid-19 patients improved to moderate and safe levels.

As of Tuesday night, the confirmed Covid-19 cases in the city already reached a total of 1,162 with 49 related deaths and about 82 percent or 956 of the patients have so far recovered.

The current 157 active cases, mostly asymptomatic and with mild symptoms, are under close observation and treatment in six local hospitals, and in barangay and temporary isolation facilities.

With the lifting of the restrictions, the mayor urged residents to remain vigilant and strictly comply with the minimum health standards and protocols.

He cited the wearing of face mask and face shield, regular hand sanitation, and the observance of safe physical distancing.

“The threat of Covid-19 transmission is still here so everyone must remain on guard so we can have safer Christmas holidays,” he said.

The city government reopened its borders last month to travelers from other localities and allowed more movements for residents as it placed the area under modified general community quarantine until Dec. 31.

The Sunday lockdown was first implemented from mid-March to May and restored in late August due to the spike Covid-19 local transmission. (PNA