Manila North Cemetery (PNA photo by Alfred Frias)

MANILA – More than two years since the Covid-19 outbreak, the Manila North Cemetery in Sta. Cruz District will be more lax in accepting visitors, except those aged 12 years and below and the unvaccinated.

Before the weekend, the Philippine News Agency chanced upon early birds at the 54-hectare cemetery, which requires the wearing of face masks at all times.

Malaking tulong, hindi masikip, hindi nakikipagsiksikan, tulad ko matanda na hindi pwedeng makipagsiksikan (It’s a great help for me, not crowded. I do not need to squeeze my way in, especially since I am old),” said Belio Ocam Atanacio, 76.

Marissa Flores, 44, visited her loved ones three days ahead of the November 1 All Saints’ Day “kasi para hindi siksikan, hindi matao (so I can avoid the crowd).”

For Elaida Bernas, 19, she thinks the fear of contracting Covid-19 is still prevalent, thus the absence of the usual crowd.

Syempre wala ng masyadong tao na nakakapunta dahil nga sa Covid. Ngayon naman maluwag na kasi may vaccine card na tayo kaya pwede nang pumunta (Of course not many people can go because of Covid-19, but now it's more relaxed because we have the vaccine card so we can go),” she said.

Jahna Paciencia, a representative of the cemetery, reminded the public to observe the rules and not to bring in prohibited items, including sound systems.

“So, ngayon po pinapaalalahanan namin lahat ng mga pupunta sa kanilang mga kamag-anak na yumao, paalala namin sa publiko ay huwag na pong magdala ng flammable, ‘yung mga nakakasunog na bagay, mga matutulis, mga inuming alak at mga kagamitang pang-sugal, mga baraha o bingo cards (we remind all those who are going to visit their relatives who have passed away not to bring in flammable and sharp objects, alcoholic drinks, and gambling items),” Paciencia said.

She said additional trash bins are placed in strategic locations and urged visitors to clean as they go.

Members of the Philippine National Police will assist visitors at the main gate while there will be roving officers inside the cemetery.

Free face masks will be distributed and alcohol and disinfectants are available at the entrance.

Vaccination cards are required while parents and guardians must bring identification cards to prove the children they are with are aged at least 13 years old.

Cleaning, painting, and renovation of graves were allowed until October 25 and interment operations temporarily closed from October 28 to November 2.

The main gates of the Manila North and Manila South cemeteries are open from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. only from October 29 to November 2.

However, the cemetery was closed on Saturday as Metro Manila reeled under Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 3 due to Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.

The Manila South cemetery in San Andres is under the jurisdiction of the capital city although some of its area is within Makati City. (PNA)