Cemeteries in Ilocos Norte will remain open for Undas 2020 even amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc said Monday.
Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, Manotoc said the provincial government will extend the operating hours of cemeteries to accommodate the entry of residents by batch.
“It’s a very dear practice sa mga Ilocanos itong visiting of the [dead]. So hindi ko po puwedeng i-ban ‘yun e, magiging riot dito kapag ginawa ko po ‘yan,” he said.
Manotoc explained that several visitation windows will be made available to allow residents to spend two to three hours in the cemetery.
“I’m not sure we can manage but we will try po and it’s really non-negotiable po kasi itong practice ng mga Ilocano. We’re very old-school and tradition na dito e,” he explained.
In Metro Manila, the country’s COVID-19 epicenter, mayors agreed to close all cemeteries from October 29 to November 4 to avoid mass gatherings and the possible transmission of the virus.
“We’ll find a way na lang po. I understand why Manila is doing it kasi iba naman po ang kaso nila but thankfully here in Ilocos we have lots of space and we will use that space,” Manotoc said.
As of Sunday afternoon, Ilocos Norte has a total of 89 COVID-19 cases with 50 recoveries and one death.
Thirty-eight cases remain active.
“As of one month ago halos wala po kaming kaso. It’s only in these past few weeks na nag-spike po unfortunately. As of today, we have 38 active cases at medyo nag-outbreak po kami sa isang town, Sarrat town,” the governor said.
Manotoc added that the lone fatality in Ilocos Norte was an elderly female who contracted COVID-19 from a relative whose job entailed going from one house to another.
Meanwhile, the province will temporarily stop accepting locally stranded individuals from September 13 to 18 as quarantine facilities are at full capacity.
A “tourism bubble” that includes Region 1 and Baguio City will “hopefully” be opened on September 21, according to Manotoc. — Julia Mari Ornedo/BM, GMA News