The Philippines’ pandemic task force will allow religious institutions to hold religious gatherings like Mass once a day from April 1 to 4, Malacañang announced on Friday, March 26.
For Catholics, this means limited physical masses are allowed from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday, the holiest days of Holy Week.
“This is in response to the request of our Catholic Bishops’ Conference [of the Philippines,” said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.
The new relaxation of rules covers all religious denominations.
It comes with the following restrictions:
- Maximum 10% seating capacity is allowed. Seat reservations are encouraged to ensure this is observed, said Roque.
- A religious venue is only allowed to hold a gathering once a day.
- Crowding outside of the religious venue is prohibited. Thus, the use of audio-visual screens or public address systems outside the venue is prohibited.
- Live singing should be limited. Recorded singing is encouraged.
Barangay officials and local police have been tasked to enforce compliance to the protocols.
The task force still encourages people to attend religious services virtually, given the continued surge in COVID-19 cases.
Earlier this week, two Catholic bishops and the largest group of Protestant churches in the country criticized the government for not consulting religious sectors on its blanket ban of religious gatherings within the “NCR Plus” bubble from March 22 to April.
On Wednesday, Justice Secretary Guevarra announced that the government would review the request to allow 10% seating capacity for religious gatherings. Guevarra serves as the task force’s liaison to religious groups. – Rappler.com