Some churches in Metro Manila have announced a lockdown while public celebrations of masses and activities for Semana Santa have been canceled based on government rules.
For the second time since the pandemic in 2020, the government has banned religious gatherings in the so-called “NCR plus bubble” until April 4 or Easter due to the still-raging COVID-19 cases.
But before the IATF decided on this, some dioceses and churches in Metro Manila also voluntarily announced a lockdown and suspension of public mass celebrations.
Other dioceses have also announced the cancellation of activities and encouraged believers to participate in the mass via live stream.
But Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David relented when the government allowed 50 percent capacity in fitness centers and 75 percent capacity in personal care services, including spas while banning the public celebration of the holiest time in the church without consultation.
“Inspite of our adherence to strict protocol you lock down our churches during the holiest time of the year and allow 70 percent capacity in fitness centers and 50 percent in establishments for personal care services, including spas?!!! All right. May God have mercy on your souls!” said David on a Facebook post.
Bishop relents ‘looser’ restrictions on gyms, spas than churches
“Why forbid our religious gatherings? Isn’t this a violation of religious freedom?” the bishop added.
It will be recalled that in July 2020, the IATF allowed 10 percent capacity in churches in areas under the GCQ which eventually became 30 percent in October.
Prior to Ash Wednesday this February, the IATF had already allowed 50 percent capacity in churches under the GCQ.
All of this was ignored due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.
The government hopes to reduce COVID-19 cases in the country by 25 percent as a result of additional GCQ quarantine restrictions implemented in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday.
“We’re estimating that with these measures and at the end of the 2-week period, that the numbers would drop by at least 25%, but we’re hoping for more,” said Roque.
“Ang tingin po namin it is a realistic goal for the next two weeks. Remember, two weeks lang po ito and we hope we can sustain the gains afterwards,” he added.