Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso on Monday asked the Environment department to barricade the Manila Bay Sands area in the city after people crowded it at the weekend and ignored social distancing.
Domagoso also discouraged the public from visiting the area due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This developed as the Department of Health expressed alarm Monday due to the mass gathering and overcrowding of people along Manila Bay over the weekend to check out the dolomite white sand amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire flagged the activity, which showed people under 21 years old and senior citizens who are prohibited from going outside due to vulnerabilities to COVID-19, flocking the area without observance of social distancing.
“This situation is worrisome. The virus isn’t gone yet,” Vergeire said in an online briefing.
The beach was opened to the public over the weekend to mark the International Coastal Cleanup Day.
The event was led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Vergeire said the Department of Health contacted the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police to increase deployment of policemen in the area to ensure that minimum health standards are being followed.
“Pakiusap ko lang sa mamamayan, gustuhin man nating makita ‘yung Manila Bay white sands, e siguro may iba pa namang panahon,” Domagoso said.
The beach will remain closed for the week while the bay’s rehabilitation is resumed.
“I already asked the DENR to close ‘yung bakod dahil hard-hat pa, may construction pang nagaganap,” Domagoso said.
He said it was enough that the public had a preview of the Manila Bay Sands through the media.
“Ipagpaliban po muna natin ang pagpunta,” he said. “Alam ko po marami sa inyo nasisiyahan, nagagalak sapagkat ito ay kakaibang pangyayari. ‘Yung imposible naging posible."
“Ngunit, naalala ko pa rin na meron pang pandemya. Meron pa akong pangamba, panganib sa lungsod ng Maynila.”
On Saturday, many people who showed up for the opening of the Manila Bay Sands failed to observe physical distancing and many were seen not wearing face shields.
Ermita Police station commander Ariel Caramoan was relieved following the police's failure to maintain social distancing. Authorities also temporarily banned picture-taking at the Manila Bay Sands.
Vergeire added: “Kailangan pa rin i-implement ang minimum health standards. Kailangan mapaalalahanan ang ating mga kababayan na delikado itong sitwasyon, puwedeng magkaroon ng pagkakahawa-hawa kapag hindi ipinatupad ang minimum health standards,” Vergeire said.
The rehabilitation of the Manila Bay shoreline is a part of the DENR’s P389 million beach nourishment project.
DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said putting white sand along Manila Bay will discourage people from throwing trash in the water.
However, the cleanup of Manila Bay is far from done since its coliform level remains not suitable for swimming and trash are still collected in parts of the bay on a regular basis.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.