Around 100 are allowed to attend Friday Mass at the Quiapo Church in Manila after the national government finally allowed once-a-day religious gatherings at 10 percent venue capacity in areas covered by the ‘NCR+’ bubble. (Ali Vicoy)
BY ARGYLL B. GEDUCOS
Days before the Holy Week, the government’s pandemic task force finally allowed once-a-day religious gatherings at 10 percent venue capacity in areas covered by the “NCR+” bubble.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque announced over state-run PTV-4 that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said religious organizations in the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal can hold gatherings once-a-day from April 1 to April 4.
According to Roque, the decision of the IATF was in response to the request of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), noting that the year 2021 marks the 500th year of Catholicism in the country.
Roque, however, said religious places must make sure to implement minimum health standards and follow additional measures to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Gatherings will only be at 10 percent of the venue’s seating capacity and this will be through reservations to ensure that this condition will be strictly followed.
Religious activities or gatherings will not be allowed outside the venue.
Audio-video systems outside churches will be prohibited during mass or service worship to prevent people from flocking outside the venue.
The public, however, is encouraged to attend religious activities through online platforms.
The IATF also strongly encouraged recorded singing over live singing.
Meanwhile, Roque said the IATF decision does not only apply to the Catholic Church.
“Lahat po ng pananampalataya kasama na rin po ang ating kapatid na Muslim, mga Shinto,” he said.
The IATF has initially prohibited religious gatherings during the two-week NCR+ bubble.
However, the Archdiocese of Manila on Tuesday said it would open its churches for worship for the Holy Week at a limited capacity, but outdoor religious activities will be canceled.