Police will carry rattan sticks to ensure that people outside their homes during the Christmas rush will observe physical distancing, an official said, as authorities moved to prevent a spike on COVID-19 cases during the holidays.
The sticks will be one-meter length, equal to the minimum required physical distance, said Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag, chief of Joint Task Force COVID Shield, the law enforcement unit for health protocols in Metro Manila, home to roughly a tenth of the Philippines' 100 million people.
"Meron kaming tinatawag na social distancing patrol. Ito'y pinagutos ng ating Chief PNP, si Gen. Sinas. May hawak na yantok 'yan, isang metro yan. Pangsaway, tapos panukat, pamalo na din dun sa matitigas ang ulo," Binag told a televised government briefing.
KEEP SAFE FROM COVID DURING THE HOLIDAYS:
The task force increased the deployment of policement in the capital region to nearly 100,000 from 74,000, he said, adding police would keep a close eye on shopping malls and commercial centers.
Metro Manila, Davao City and other urban areas are under GCQ, the second lowest quarantine classification while the rest of the country is under MGCQ, one notch lower. The quarantines are effective until Dec. 31.
MORE ON QUARANTINES:
Earlier this week, Health Sec. Francisco Duque and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno inspected Divisoria to ensure that shoppers in the capital city's bargain haven follow COVID protocols.
Metro Manila mayors also rejected a proposal to allow minors inside shopping malls for the first time since quarantines were imposed last March.
To streamline contact-tracing efforts, the country's pandemic response task force is requiring all establishments to adopt StaySafe as the single tracking app.