MANILA, Philippines – Despite the continued decrease in COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health (DOH) urged employers to still hold Christmas parties virtually for the second time during the pandemic.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire made the appeal in a press briefing on Friday, December 3, when asked about the rules on organizing parties during the holiday season.
“Hindi pa ho nawawala ang virus. Bagama’t bumababa na ang mga kaso sa bansa, andiyan pa rin ho ang COVID-19 virus at maaari tayo maka-infect. Sa ating mga employers, best pa rin po ang virtual Christmas parties,” Vergeire said.
(The virus is still here. While COVID-19 cases are decreasing, the virus is still here, and infection is still possible. To our employers, it is still best to hold Christmas parties virtually.)
Vergeire said companies could still hold physical parties, provided they were limited to fully vaccinated individuals only.
“We encourage our employers to require only fully vaccinated in Christmas parties, that you do this in open space, with physical distancing, and we avoid buffet dishes, so we prevent congregation when you get food,” she said.
For more than a week, the Philippines has been recording less than 1,000 COVID-19 infections. On Tuesday, November 30, the country logged its lowest COVID-19 tally in nearly 17 months at 425.
The entire Philippines is under Alert Level 2, which means that most businesses are allowed to operate. Other activities that the government earlier restricted are allowed at 50% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 70% outdoor venue capacity.
Despite the continued decrease in cases, the DOH reminded the public not to be complacent and to continue following health protocols, especially now that a more transmissible variant of COVID-19 called Omicron has been spreading quickly in other African and European countries.
Philippine health officials said on Monday, November 29, it was “highly likely” Omicron would eventually make its way into the country just as all other variants of concern did. – Rappler.com