Philippine authorities have announced that more people will soon be allowed to attend religious gatherings, including public celebrations of Mass.
Government spokesman Harry Roque said more activities and industries will be allowed to resume under the more relaxed “general community quarantine” starting July 10.
He said that instead of ten people, up to ten percent of a venue’s capacity will be allowed for a mass gathering, including religious activities.
Roque, however, said the religious gatherings shall be limited to the conduct of religious worship or services that are allowed by the local government.
Religious organizations should likewise strictly observe their protocols submitted to the government and minimum public health standards, particularly distancing measures and the wearing of face masks.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila welcomed the government announcement, describing it as “a good development.”
“There is a big difference between 10 persons and 10 percent,” said the prelate.
Bishop Pabillo earlier described the limitation set by the government as “unreasonable” and “laughable” since there are many big churches in the country.
Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao said the government decision is “a good sign” and “a good start in reopening our churches.”
“We will follow the government protocol in helping prevent the spread of coronavirus,” he said.
Father Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of Quiapo Church in Manila, said the decision is “good news” for the faithful because it would mean more people can attend Masses especially on Fridays.
The government’s Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases also approved the recommendation of the tourism and trade departments to allow travel agencies to resume operations.
Their operations shall, however, be limited at a skeleton workforce and primarily to do administrative works, such as processing of refunds and payment to suppliers.
The task force also approved the guidelines on the conduct of “health-enhancing physical activities and sports” during the pandemic, including basketball and football practices.
Roque clarified, however, that the order only covers professional players. “Street games are not yet allowed. Professional players only,” he said.