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Religious mass gatherings still restricted due to COVID-19 threat

Mass gatherings for religious purposes will remain restricted despite the transition to looser community quarantines across the Philippines due to the COVID-19 threat, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Few people visit the Baclaran Church on April 8, 2020. Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF) has decided to keep the prevailing restriction on religious mass gatherings following a meeting with leaders of different sectors.

“Nagkaroon po ng desisyon na hindi muna papayagan ang mass gatherings for religious purposes. I cannot say when mapapayagan po ‘yan pero titingnan po natin ang datos,” he said in a virtual Palace press briefing.

(There was a decision to continue to prohibit mass gatherings for religious purposes. I cannot say when it will be allowed but we will check the data)

“Titingnan po natin ang case doubling rate; titingnan po natin ang preparedness for critical care. Pero sa ngayon po hindi pa po papayagan ang mass gathering for religious purposes,” he added.

(We will look at the case doubling rate. We will look at the preparedness for critical care but for now, we will not allow mass gatherings for religious purposes.)

Under the government’s guidelines for the implementation of community quarantines, religious gatherings should only be limited to 10 people in general community quarantine areas. Minimum health standards such as physical distancing and the wearing of face masks should also be observed.

Roque said the IATF would announce in the coming days the limit for participants in religious gatherings in areas under the modified general community quarantine or MGCQ.

Metro Manila on Monday transitioned to a general community quarantine from a modified enhanced community quarantine, which means that nearly all industries may operate at varying degrees.

Other areas that transitioned to GCQ are Pangasinan province, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Central Visayas, Davao City, and Zamboanga City.

The rest of the country meanwhile, shifted to a modified GCQ, which is a step higher than the “new normal,” or the full easing of community quarantine protocols.


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