The government finally gave in to the Catholic Church’s request to ease restrictions on religious gatherings as churches were allowed to accommodate up to 10 percent of seating capacity for a four-day period during the observance of the Holy Week from April 1 to April 4.
However, no gatherings or religious activities will be allowed outside the church or venue. The use of audio-video screens or public address systems outside the church while the Mass is being celebrated is prohibited. Attendance through various online platforms, however, is encouraged.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) allowed religious denominations to hold religious gatherings once a day for only 10 percent of its seating capacity to attend physical Masses.
Manila Auxiliary and apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo lauded the IATF for granting the Church’s request.
Local barangay units and local units of the Philippine National Police are directed to facilitate the implementation of the protocols.
The IATF also approved the request of the Professional Regulation Commission to conduct and administer the licensure examinations for professionals scheduled for May and June 2021 following strict health protocols as approved by the Department of Health.
Examinees from areas under general community quarantine are strongly discouraged from traveling to areas under modified general community quarantine to prevent COVID-19 transmission to low-risk areas.
Meanwhile, the Department of Information and Communications Technology will issue the necessary certifications and facilitate the turnover of rights of the StaySafe.ph to the Republic of the Philippines, as done, which is represented by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday welcomed the government’s decision to allow religious gatherings at 10 percent capacity from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP – Permanent Committee on Public Affairs (PCPA), said this would allow the faithful to observe Holy Week activities inside churches at a limited capacity.
“It’s a welcome development for the faithful. At least, they’ll be given a chance to celebrate and commemorate the Easter Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black Saturday) (and) Easter Sunday being the highest point of our faith,” Secillano said in an interview. “The IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) must have realized that faith is also vital to surviving this crisis.”
He assured the public that churches would strictly implement health protocols for the safety of the public.
“Having been allowed now, the church is expected to implement strict health protocols to ensure the safety of our people,” Secillano said.