MANILA Mayor Isko Moreno appealed for calm and self-discipline among would-be vaccinees after throngs of people arrived in big groups from outside the city and disregarded the cut-off and barriers, prompting a shopping mall designated as a vaccination hub to temporarily close down.
Moreno made the call after Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, who is on top of the city’s mass vaccination program, reported that the based on information from the ground, volunteers and mall personnel said that the situation in the vaccination sites was peaceful and orderly until at past 2 a.m., throngs arrived on board vans and huge jeeps.
The said throngs reportedly acted rowdy, taking away the barriers put in the areas and insisting that they be allowed to continue queueing even if they were not even registered.
Lacuna noted that the said persons were from outside Manila areas like Laguna and Cavite and told the marshalls they rushed to the sites due to rumors that those who are unvaccinated will be arrested if they go out of their house during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which starts today, August 6.
The crowd estimates in the mall vaccination sites as provided by Manila Health Department (MHD) chief Dr. Poks Pangan were as follows: SM San Lazaro — 7,000 to 10,000 plus; SM Manila,5,000; Lucky Chinatown, 3,000 and Robinson’s Manila, 4,000.
Lacuna noted that usually, those who go to the vaccination sites number only about 1,000 to 2,000 and are fully aware of the policies like the need to pre-register and have their QR codes ready, which was not the case with the throngs who went to the mall sites before dawn on Thursday.
The residents also know that there is a cut-off and once told that the cut-off has been met, they peacefully go home and try their luck the next vaccination day.
The unruly crowds forced the closure of the SM San Lazaro Mall and the cancellation of the vaccination slated there although the inoculation went as scheduled in SM Manila, Lucky Chinatown and Robinson’s Manila.
In an interview, Lacuna said that 2,500 doses have been allocated per mall site and while the residents do troop to the vaccination hubs, the crowds on Thursday were unusually high.
She also noted reports from their personnel that those who trooped to the mall sites and created confusion were not aware of the policies like having to pre-register and presenting their QR code, which is not the case when it comes to Manilans.
Lacuna said:”Open policy kami sa Manila, nagulat lang kami na biglang dumagsa ang mga tao ngayong araw. As much as possible gusto namin yakapin ang lahat para mabakunahan, taga-aynila man o hindi.”
She said that the police and barangay volunteers advise those queuing if the cut-off had been met but that on Thursday, those who lined up refused to heed the advice.
Meanwhile, Moreno issued Executive Order No. 20 stating the proactive measures for various sectors of the city regarding businesses, travel and foot traffic, in connection with the ECQ.
“Walang may gusto na mag-lockdown ulit, pero kinakailangang gawin para mapigilan ang posibleng pagdami pa ng kaso ng COVID-19, lalo na ang mas delikado na Delta variant. Patuloy lang po nating sundin ang lahat ng alituntunin ng IATF. Siguro, by now, ay nasanay na tayo rito. But I am really hoping this will be the last time for us to be under ECQ,” said Moreno.
These measures also include the implementation of the 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew except for “Authorized Persons Outside Residence” or APOR with valid IDs.
He assured that vaccination in Manila will continue despite the ECQ.