MANILA – As part of the government’s efforts to contain the spread of 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Malacañang on Friday encouraged couples to postpone their wedding in Metro Manila amid the looming implementation of community quarantine in the region.
Speaking to Palace reporters, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said love can wait but the threat of Covid-19 cannot be stopped.
“Ito yung struggle natin (This is our struggle) but this is the reality of life. Kaya nga ang panawagan namin, alam natin na timeless at boundless naman ang pag-ibig (That’s why we’re making this appeal. We know that love is timeless and boundless). What is one-month postponement for love?” he said during the “Laging Handa” press briefing.
Nograles made the statement in the wake of the rise of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines.
On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte declared that the entire Metro Manila will be under community quarantine.
Duterte also prohibited domestic land, air, and sea travel to and from Metro Manila.
He also ordered the strict observation of social distancing and the prohibition of mass gatherings in the metropolis.
Celebrity couple Richard Gutierrez and Sarah Lahbati postponed their wedding scheduled on Saturday (March 14) in Taguig City due to the Covid-19 threat.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said couples who would postpone their scheduled nuptials during the quarantine period in Metro Manila may ask for a refund to their respective wedding suppliers.
He said they can make a complaint before the Department of Trade and Industry’s office in case the suppliers refuse to grant the refund.
“Dapat may refund kasi force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances) ‘yun. Huwag silang matakot (There should be a refund because the situation is a force majeure. They should not be afraid to ask for refund),” Lopez said.
Should couples refuse to rethink their wedding plans, they can opt to limit the number of their guests to ensure the strict compliance with the “social distancing” measure imposed by the government, Lopez said.
“’Yung social distancing, kailangan ma-observe. Bawal ang mass gathering eh. Kung hindi nila mapigilan or i-move ang kasalan, I think, pwede nilang gawin yung bawasan na lang (Social distancing must be observed. Mass gathering is prohibited. If wedding cannot be stopped or moved, I think they can limit the number of their guests),” he said.
Asked as to how many guests a couple should invite, Nograles said it “depends on the size of the room.”
In observing social distancing, a person should keep someone at arm’s length, Nograles said.
Nograles also warned that couples need to make certain adjustments during their wedding.
“Paano magki-kiss ang couple? Paano ang distansya ng couple? Ang daming adjustments na kailangang gawin (How can the couple kiss each other? How will they make a distance? There are so many adjustments that need to be done),” he said.
Nograles said the government is “strictly” prohibiting mass gatherings during the quarantine period in Metro Manila.
He said mass gatherings include “concerts, large seminars and conventions, sporting events and social gatherings.”
Nograles, meanwhile, said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease has yet to finalize the guidelines on masses, worship services, and religious gatherings.
Amid the implementation of community quarantine, Nograles appealed for public cooperation.
“Alam naming malaking adjustment po ito para atin dito sa Metro Manila (I know it would be a big adjustment for us who are living here in Metro Manila) but we ask everyone to cooperate because the consequences of allowing these gatherings this crucial time could be painful in the long run,” he said.
The Philippines has so far 52 confirmed cases of Covid-19. (PNA)