Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday defended the government’s decision to ease age restrictions in areas under a modified general community quarantine, saying that allowing children to finally go out would be good for their well-being.
Earlier, Malacañang announced that people aged 10-years-old to 65-years-old can go out starting February 1. The government previously allowed only those aged 15 to 65 years to go out.
“Filipino children have already stayed in their homes for ten months now, and allowing those to leave their houses, especially on a weekend activity, is good for their physical, social, and mental health,” Roque said in a statement.
Roque was responding to a question asking him to explain the inconsistency of allowing children to go to malls but not to attend face-to-face classes amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.
According to the spokesperson, allowing face-to-face classes and allowing children to leave their homes differed “in their nature, intensity, and proximity.”
“For one, physical distancing is difficult to implement in face-to-face classes given the size of classrooms vis-a-vis the number of students that are enrolled,” Roque said, adding that students will also be more at risk due to the intensity of their interactions with others.
Meanwhile, Roque said the children leaving their homes for leisure would be with their parents or relatives.
“It is family bonding and interaction is akin to a ‘family bubble’ since it is limited to family members – the same people they are with in their homes - thus it is safer,” he said.
Also, activities outside their homes, such as dining out or doing the groceries would take fewer hours complemented with the observance of public health standards,” he added.
Roque also said that 10-year-olds are “less frisky” compared to younger children.
“[I]t has been observed that ten-year-old children have started to develop their cognitive skills of following instructions from adults,” he said.
Roque said the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases may also be related to the goal of reopening the economy.
“Not easing restrictions may have [a] longer impact on jobs, income, poverty, and hunger leading to further economic deterioration as well as health issues,” he said.
“As we said [on] numerous occasions, the government needs to balance both the re-opening of the economy and controlling the spread of the virus. Rest assured that safeguards and health protocols would be strictly adhered,” he added. — DVM, GMA News