The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it may recommend a nationwide cemetery closure during the observance of All Souls’ and All Saints’ Days following the decision of Metro Manila mayors to prevent mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire expressed support for the decision of the Metro Manila mayors, even calling it a "good practice."
"Alam naman natin kapag Undas, talagang siksikan sa mga sementeryo and that is mass gathering already and we would like to prevent that," she said at a virtual press briefing.
"'Pag dumating 'yung panahon na 'yan (Undas), maaaring makapag-recommend din tayo so that it can be implemented across the country," said.
The Metro Manila Council decided on Sunday that all public and private cemeteries in the National Capital Region will be closed from October 29 to November 4.
This comes as the country continues to grapple with a virus that has infected over 260,000 people and killed more than 4,000 in the Philippines.
Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez, who chairs the MMC, said cemeteries will be closed to visitors but that burials and cremations will still be allowed during that period.
He explained that Metro Manila mayors wanted to encourage residents to visit the tombs of their loved ones before or after the observation of the holidays to avoid overcrowding in cemeteries.
The cities of Manila, San Juan, and Mandaluyong were the first to announce the closure of cemeteries within their locality.
Meanwhile, Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. of Pampanga earlier said cemeteries in their area will be closed from October 30 to November 2.
Police personnel, marshals, and barangay officers will be present in the cemeteries to monitor the situation and enforce health protocols, Olivarez said. — AOL/RSJ, GMA News