Metro Manila mayors ease restrictions on religious gatherings

Published May 21, 2021, 11:55 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

More people can now attend religious gatherings in the National Capital Region (NCR) after mayors have agreed to relax the restrictions on these activities.

Devotees observe a safe distance from each other while hearing Sunday mass outside Quiapo church in Manila in a December 2020 file photo. (ALI VICOY/ MANILA BULLETIN)

According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the Metro Manila Council ruled that churches and other places of worship can fill 30 percent of seating capacity for religious gatherings in NCR. The decision of the Metro Manila mayors was discussed during the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Thursday.

“The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Thursday, May 20, 2021, noted that the Metro Manila Council has allowed religious gatherings at 30% venue capacity,” Roque said in a statement.

“The IATF earlier allowed religious gatherings up to 10% of the venue capacity under the General Community Quarantine with heightened restrictions. Local government units, however, are given the discretion to increase the venue capacity of religious gatherings as long as these would not exceed the 30% allowable venue capacity,” he added.

President Duterte earlier placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal and Laguna, collectively known as NCR Plus, under GCQ until the end of May but with “heightened restrictions” such as limited religious gatherings.

Last Thursday, the Palace announced the government will keep the 10 percent capacity rule for religious gatherings in NCR Plus as part of the “heightened restrictions” to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Roque, in a televised press briefing Thursday, May 20, even urged the public to bear with such restriction temporarily, saying it was part of ensuring a safe reopening of NCR Plus.

READ: Religious gatherings allowed at 10% capacity in GCQ areas ‘with heightened restrictions’

Under the government rules for GCQ areas, religious gatherings are allowed to up to 30 percent of venue capacity provided health protocols such as physical distancing are implemented.

The easing of restrictions on religious gatherings comes as the country’s cases of coronavirus continued to rise. Of the 1.16 million cases of infections, 51,912 are active cases, 1.093 recoveries, and 19,641 deaths.