Churches, venues may hold religious gatherings at half capacity in MGCQ

Pia Ranada
The limit of 10 persons in religious gatherings remains for GCQ areas until government and religious groups can agree on new rules

MASS AMID PANDEMIC. Baguio Cathedral opens to the public but implements physical distancing measures. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Starting June 1, religious gatherings in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) will be allowed as long as they occupy only half of the church or religious venue.

This was announced by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Saturday, May 30, on behalf of the national government coronavirus task force. 

Guevarra led the dialogue between government and religious groups.

“Religious gatherings will be allowed up to 50% of the capacity of the church or venue in MGCQ areas by June 1,” he said.

MGCQ is the most relaxed form of community quarantine imposed by the Philippine government.

How about GCQ areas? But in areas under GCQ, like Metro Manila and Cebu City starting June 1, only religious gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed.

This may change after a dialogue of government officials with religious sectors and local government chiefs to be held on Monday, June 1.

The national government task force is set to make a final decision on the same day, said Guevarra.

Previously, religious leaders had made detailed suggestions on how to impose health protocols during masses and other religious activities. But not all local government officials were convinced.

“However, some local government officials have expressed concern that increasing the number of participants in religious gatherings may spark an upsurge in COVID-19 infections and derail their advancement to a more relaxed MGCQ regime,” said Guevarra.

These concerns will be on the agenda of the June 1 meeting.

Only the following areas will be under GCQ from June 1 to 15:

  • Metro Manila
  • Cebu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Davao City
  • Zamboanga City
  • Albay
  • Pangasinan
  • Cagayan Valley
  • Central Luzon
  • Calabarzon
  • Central Visayas

– Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.