By Jeffrey Damicog
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has decided not to increase the number of persons allowed in religious gatherings in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) which already includes the National Capital Region (NCR), Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Tuesday.
Guevarra, a member of the IATF, said the IATF reached the decision after holding a consultative meeting on Monday morning, June 1, with the religious sector and representatives of local government units (LGUs).
“In the IATF meeting in the afternoon (June 1), the prevailing sentiment was to keep the present guideline on mass gatherings, including religious worship (i.e., max of 10 persons in GCQ areas), in view of the large number of COVID cases in GCQ areas, especially in the NCR,” he said.
Religious gatherings are allowed up to 50 percent capacity in areas under modified GCQ (MGCQ) starting June 1.
Guevarra said the decision on the current limit of religious gatherings could change in the coming days.
He disclosed that “the DOH (Department of Health) will submit new data analytics on June 10, which will be the basis for possible reclassification of community quarantine regimes by June 15.”
“If the reduction in COVID cases will be significant by then, i believe that the IATF will be amenable to the participation of more people in religious gatherings,” he said.
The IATF has been holding dialogues with the religious sector and LGUs since last week concerning the holding of religious gatherings.
“The religious groups have presented the numerous health protocols and other stringent measures that they intend to implement once greater attendance in public worship or religious service is allowed in GCQ areas (at present, only a maximum of 10 persons is allowed),” Guevarra had previously revealed.
“However, some local govt officials have expressed concern that the increasing number of participants in religious gatherings may spark an upsurge in COVID-19 infections and derail their advancement to a more relaxed MGCQ,” he added.