To avoid superspreader events from happening in the future, organizers of gatherings for community service or humanitarian purposes should notify the Quezon City government, particularly the Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS), at least five days in advance.

This was contained in the latest general community quarantine (GCQ) guidelines issued by Mayor Joy Belmonte following several superspreader events in Barangay Matandang Balara and Holy Spirit in the past weeks that resulted in a number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

“We need to impose stricter measures to ensure that there won’t be a repeat of such incidents. Nasasayang lang ang ating mga pinaghirapan kung may mangyayaring mga pagtitipon na mauuwi sa pagtaas ng impeksiyon,” said Belmonte.

According to Belmonte’s directive, all organizers of gatherings for community service or humanitarian purposes where people are reasonably expected to congregate in a public place must inform the DPOS at least 5 days in advance, providing details on the organizers’ crowd control plan.

These gatherings include but are not limited to medical missions, kasalang bayan, distribution of food and cash assistance, and the like.

“Event organizers have the responsibility to provide appropriate crowd control measures to avoid excessive numbers of attendees and ensure proper physical distancing, such as through the use of marshals, stubs, coupons, and similar strategies,” Belmonte said in her order.

In case of violations of health protocols, the DPOS shall bring the matter to the Law and Order Cluster, including the Philippine National Police, for appropriate investigation and sanctions to be imposed if warranted.

“Dapat managot ang mga nasa likod ng mga pagtitipon kung magkakaroon ng mga paglabag sa ating health at safety protocols. Walang palalampasin, walang palulusutin,” Belmonte stressed.

The directive also states that gatherings of more than 10 persons shall be prohibited, except when indispensable for work, government or humanitarian purposes.

However, Belmonte said religious gatherings are exempted as they may occupy up to 50 percent of venue capacity.

Hotel function rooms and similar facilities for purposes of meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) and other events may operate at 30% of venue capacity. However, if the event is for social purposes, venue capacity shall be 20% provided the facility complies with the Safety Seal program.

During these events, event organizers and venue owners/operators shall be responsible and may be held liable for exceeding the venue capacity or other health protocol violations, aside from the liability of the participants themselves.

In addition, event organizers should, to the fullest extent feasible, record the names and contact details of all attendees. If the gathering takes place in an events venue such as a function room, meeting hall, mall or building, KyusiPass digital contact tracing should be used as far as possible.

Also, Belmonte ordered hotels and other accommodation establishments in Quezon City receiving returning overseas Filipinos (OFs), to report to the Office of the City Administrator for documentation and monitoring, and for guidance on health, security, and logistics protocols.

She also mandated that all returning OFs must complete a mandatory quarantine period of at least 14 days, regardless of a negative RT-PCR test result, due to the highly contagious nature of the new COVID-19 variants. If not possible, OFs could stay in an appropriate quarantine facility.

For returning OFs who are residents of Quezon City, they shall be picked-up at the hotel by the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) of their home barangay and continue their quarantine at their barangay quarantine facility or other facility approved by the CESU.

The City Health Department may exempt a returning OF from the aforementioned requirements provided that the returnee presents a vaccine card or equivalent document showing complete COVID-19 vaccination, but this would only apply to the City-imposed quarantine.

Belmonte warned that OFs who will misrepresent their vaccine status shall be held criminally liable under applicable law.