PNP now prohibits public display of affection to curb COVID-19 surge

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 10) — Couples are now prohibited from showing public displays of affection amid rising COVID-19 cases in different parts of the country.

Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police, told CNN Philippines' Balitaan on Wednesday that this will be part of their intensified efforts to ensure the observance of minimum health and safety protocols in localities, commercial, and recreational establishments.

"Isa lang ho ito sa mga panuntunan na na-mention even in the past on the implementation of health and safety protocols," he said. "Hindi po ito naiba, nire-reiterate lang ito ng PNP."

[Translation: This is just one of the rules that we have mentioned in the past on the implementation of health and safety protocols. This is not any different, the PNP just wants to reiterate this.]

Aside from couples, close friends and family members who are seen showing different acts of physical intimacy including holding hands, kissing, and embracing each other in public will be called out by authorities, he said.

No formal sanctions will be imposed on violators for now, but the PNP said it hopes that Filipinos can already exercise self-discipline without the need to be reprimanded.

"Sisitahin lang po," Usana said. "Siguro sa tingin lang ng pulis, baka madala na sila. O kung lalapitan, pwedeng kausapin, sasabihing ''di pwede iyan.'"

[Translation: We will just reprimand them. Maybe with just one look from the police officer, they will stop. Or if we have to approach them, we'll just remind them that it's not allowed.]

In a separate briefing, PNP Chief Debold Sinas expressed a similar sentiment, noting that authorities were not as strict in the past especially when the economy was just starting to reopen. He added that more police officers may be deployed soon in malls, restaurants, plazas and other public establishments.

Meanwhile, the government continues to remind the public to wear masks, face shields and observe physical distancing especially when going out.

The Health Department reported that the country has surpassed 600,000 COVID-19 cases with more than 2,600 new infections as of Tuesday.

OCTA Research previously warned that the country could even see as many as 6,000 new COVID-19 infections a day by month-end, and the daily case count in Metro Manila could further rise to 3,000 before April based on the virus’ current reproduction number of 1.66 in the region.