Solon bats for new place of worship guidelines for senior citizens

It is high-time the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and local authorities issue new guidelines for elderly Filipinos who want to attend church or visit other places of worship.

(Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP) / TO GO WITH Health-virus-Philippines,PHOTOESSAY

Senior Citizen Party-List Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes underscored how important hearing mass is to elderly people like him.

"I strongly believe it is time for the IATF and local governments to issue new guidelines on attendance in religious gatherings at the various places of worship nationwide. Ten percent seating capacity of places of worship is too restrictive and does not promote mental health among our citizens at this time when they need to lift their spirits. We must also consider that there are many religious occasions in the months ahead like Christmas," Ordanes said.

He went on to suggest rules that could be followed in this regard. He reckoned that in Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) and ECQ areas, places of worship may allow up to 15 percent seating capacity inside the venue and physical distancing of at least two meters or six feet inside and outside the venue.

In General Community Quarantine (GCQ) areas, the newly installed House member said up to 20 percent seating capacity may be permitted inside the venue along with physical distancing of at least two meters or six feet inside and outside the venue.

"For all places of worship, the entrance and exit areas shall be unobstructed at all times and all doors and windows shall be wide open to allow for good circulation of fresh air," he said.

Ordanes noted that quarantine restrictions for places of worship should not be far behind those of other public places like malls and restaurants.

He said "bubble" conditions a la the National Basketball Association (NBA) may be allowed by religious leaders for the conduct of religious retreats.

"Details of these retreat bubbles can be patterned after the bubbles of the sports sector. But retreat bubbles should not have more than 20 people," he said. 

Senior citizens are considered highly vulnerable to COVID-19, which currently does not have a cure or vaccine.