An estimated 25 million people in the Manila area of the primarily Catholic country were forced to cancel their Easter plans.
The Philippines has announced a new lockdown that will last through Easter, as active COVID-19 cases surge. The decision to reinstate the lockdown just before Easter came as the island nation posted record high numbers of active cases.
According to CNN, the announcement was made on Saturday after the country reported 9,838 new cases. This was the country’s highest single day increase and has been following a trend of over 9,000 new cases per day. There are currently more than 105,000 open COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, which has reported over 720,000 COVID-19 cases and 13,170 deaths since the beginning of the world pandemic.
The lockdown began on Monday and will last through Easter, April 4. It will affect nearly a quarter of the Philippines’ population, isolating nearly 25 million people in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces. This has caused many in the 90% Catholic country to cancel their Easter family gatherings.
Measures instituted by the new lockdown will include a curfew and will limit in-person gatherings. The curfew is more stringent than the previous lockdown, keeping people off the streets from 6 p.m. until 5 a.m. Gatherings are restricted to no more than 10, but non-residents must remain outdoors. Restaurants will also be restricted from allowing diners to eat in, but take-out and delivery services are allowed.
The Hill reports that the government has mobilized thousands of police officers to enforce the curfew. Officials have suggested that vaccinations will prevent further lockdowns.
Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said:
“Do not worry. Our goal is still to ensure that everybody will be vaccinated. But while we do this, the government is prioritizing healthcare workers as they are the most exposed and the most at risk of getting COVID.” He added, “More vaccines will arrive, we are sure of that. We just have to wait for our turns to be vaccinated.”