Religious mass gatherings still not allowed: Palace

Religious mass gatherings still not allowed: Palace

MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has decided to keep its restrictions on religious activities amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the country, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Despite the eased quarantine restrictions nationwide, the IATF-EID agreed Monday that it still needs to limit the number of participants in religious gatherings due to the risk of acquiring the new coronavirus, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press conference aired on state-run PTV-4.

“Naka-agenda po siya (religious gatherings) kahapon. At nagkaroon po ng desisyon na hindi muna po papayagan ang mass gatherings for religious purposes (It’s included in the agenda yesterday. And there was a decision to still not allow mass gatherings for religious purposes),” Roque said.

This developed even after the IATF-EID held a dialogue with the religious sector to discuss the conduct of religious gatherings amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The maximum number of participants in religious activities in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) must be five and 10, respectively, according to the guidelines issued by the IATF-EID in May.

However, no areas in the country are currently placed under MECQ.

GCQ, on the other hand, is effective from June 1 to 15 in Pangasinan, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Metro Manila, Central Visayas, Zamboanga City, Davao City, and Mandaue City.

The rest of the country was put under modified GCQ (MGCQ) until June 15.

Roque said the IATF-EID has yet to tackle how many participants can join religious activities that will be held in places under MGCQ.

“’Yung numero po sa sampu ay para sa GCQ at nakasulat po doon sa resolution. Sa MGCQ eh pagkakasunduan pa kung ano yung maximum number (The maximum of 10 participants is only applicable to areas under GCQ, based on the resolution. The maximum number of participants in areas under MGCQ is yet to be determined),” he said.

Roque said the possible revisions to the current guidelines will depend on the doubling rate of Covid-19 cases and preparedness for critical care in areas in the country.

Foreign visitors still banned

Apart from the restrictions on religious activities, Roque said foreign visitors are still barred from visiting the country due to the threat posed by Covid-19.

“Magkakaroon pa tayo ng mas maraming problema kung pati mga dayuhan ay papapuntahin natin (We will face more problems if we allow foreigners to visit here),” he said.

Covid-19 infections in the Philippines have risen to 18,638, as of June 1.

Around 3,979 Covid-19 patients have so far recovered, while 960 individuals have died due to the highly-contagious disease. Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos /PNA –