Edited by: Joaquin
Visual by: Kailani
It’s December again. It’s hard to believe that despite an almost yearlong pandemic, malls will begin to finally fill up in anticipation for the upcoming holidays. You may have recently visited a mall, or taken a stroll along the Bonifacio High Street, and noticed crowds of visitors filling up these once-empty spaces. Amidst the ongoing pandemic, it’s safe to say that local quarantine laws have eased since Luzon’s last Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) period that took place in May. However, this influx of mall-goers has attracted the attention of government officials, who have recently denied minors the benefit of unaccompanied entrance into public spaces. Despite recent efforts from local officials to both restrict mall access and gradually ease quarantine restrictions, should minors be granted the ability to visit malls unaccompanied by guardians?
For the past few months, the issue at hand has been debated by public officials to either further restrict the entrance of visitors, or to continue to accept the influx of mall-goers in order to promote the growth of the Philippines’ economy. Administrators have to prioritise adjusting a balance in both the safety of their citizens and the gradual growth of the economy as the country recently entered a recession in August.
On one side, it can be argued that allowing a wider range of mall-goers, specifically minors, could pose a threat to the health of the Philippines’ citizens. In an official statement, MMDA general manager, Jojo Garcia expressed that, “only 18 to 65-year-olds are allowed to go out, except for essentials.” Right now, officials are concerned that minors are not capable of following proper social distancing and health procedures, but regardless, have started to gradually grant them the ability to leave their houses for essential activities. Recently, exercise was permitted as an “essential activity” by the Metro Manila Council, which meant that minors and young children were capable of leaving their residences for the pursuit of fitness, while also following mandatory health procedures such as mask-wearing and social distancing. But this was not extended to shopping in malls, due to the health risks involved.
On the other hand, the decision to open malls for minors has been a controversial, yet somewhat reasonable discussion amidst quarantine restrictions. It can be said that allowing minors into malls could promote families to spend more money. As the Philippines is currently in a period of recession, which was caused primarily by the country’s harsh quarantine regulations, the easing of these rules, especially during the holiday season where spending is rampant, could give way for a potential recovery of the economy by 2021. If officials somehow manage to improve economic conditions while reducing virus cases, then perhaps in the future, minors may be allowed to attend malls without their guardians.
Regardless of whether or not these benefits are granted in the future, minors should continue to follow their local quarantine regulations, while respecting proper health procedures. If this is continued, then perhaps we may be allowed to visit malls in the future.
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