Pandemic Fatigue and the Christmas Holidays

The best Christmas gift that we can give to ourselves, our loved ones and our country is by keeping ourselves healthy and safe, and free from COVID-19 and other diseases.

It is already the month of December. In a less than thirty days, we will bid the current year goodbye to welcome a new one. Of course, everybody is excited during this month, as Christmas is fast approaching and the holidays will be an opportunity for most of us to relax.

However, December 2020 is different compared to past Decembers. The Philippines is now entering its ninth month of COVID-19 pandemic since the first set of community quarantine levels were first implemented over Luzon last March. For this month, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recommended that Metro Manila and several other areas will remain under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) while the rest of the country will still be under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), with the recommendation approved by President Rodrigo Duterte last November 30, 2020.

For the past nine months, the movement of Filipinos, especially that of minors and seniors above 65 years of age, has been severely limited due to varying community quarantine levels and travel restrictions. Most of us are confined to our homes, especially during the early months of the pandemic, with movement outside limited only to essential activities such as the purchase of food and medicine, while only essential personnel and essential products are the ones given priority to travel, although it is more relaxed now given the increase in the number of businesses allowed to operate and expanded modes of public transport available. However, restrictions such as the wearing of face masks and face shields outside of the home, and controlled number of people allowed inside a business establishment or mode of public transport at a single time, are still being enforced since March.

The pandemic and the restrictions being imposed by government and health authorities seem to have led to a growing sense of fatigue among Filipinos who are used to being outside of the home most of the time, and socializing with their neighbors and other people. People are tired of being locked in their homes and even tired of wearing face masks and face shields. They miss the genuineness of person-to-person interaction, especially with their family members, relatives and friends.

That is perhaps the reason why shopping malls and parks saw an increase in the size of crowds as soon as there was an easing in the restrictions on movement. Their feeling was similar to that of an animal that was kept inside a cage for a long period of time. The excitement and joy of people, and freedom from months of being locked up inside their homes made them momentarily forget that the virus that causes COVID-19 has not left, causing to fail to exercise the need to practice basic health safety protocols and social distancing.

The crowds are expected to grow during the Christmas holidays. In recent days, there were reports of a growing number of people trooping to Divisoria and Baclaran to take advantage of bargains at the flea markets in buying gifts for themselves and their loved ones, and also filling up their supplies at home. Even the shopping malls have seen an increase in foot traffic like as if the pandemic is not even happening.

Everyone must be reminded that although most of us are suffering from pandemic fatigue and that the Christmas holidays are the time to be merry and relaxed, the truth is that COVID-19 is still there and can strike on any body. Maybe there is a declining trend in the number of cases but if we will be reckless, we are going to see a sudden spike akin to what the United States and some countries in Europe are now seeing. We cannot afford to let our guard down even if it is now the Christmas season and the government is easing up the restrictions being enforced.

The best Christmas gift that we can give to ourselves, our loved ones and our country is by keeping ourselves healthy and safe, and free from COVID-19 and other diseases. We should keep on practicing basic health safety protocols, especially the washing of our hands, wearing face masks and face shields, and keeping a safe distance from the people near us. Let us end 2020 and start 2021 on a good note by being healthy, safe and secure from COVID-19 and other diseases.

About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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