Church lockdowns must only be the last resort.
The Diocese of Novaliches said this in the guidelines which was released on Thursday, Jan. 13 amid the surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country.
“In our Diocese of Novaliches lockdowns must be our parish’s last resort, i.e., to contain the spread of the virus,” it said.
“This should only be done as the last resort and in response to grave threats to people’s health and safety particularly those living within the confines of the church building itself and its immediate vicinity, and as so ordered by the government following the existing LGU protocols on community. lockdowns,” it added.
Before placing a parish church under lockdown, the parish pastor or administrator must inform and even seek counsel from the Bishop and/or in his absence, from the Vicar General for Administration, or the Vicar Forane for proper pastoral processing, validation and official communication.
Unless asked or ordered by the government, the diocese said “no general diocesan lockdown should henceforth be expected.”
“This inasmuch as not all parishes are not exactly situated similarly but rather and in fact differently situated,” it said.
The diocese said unless ordered by the government, parishes should remain open even if only partially, all in the service of the people.
It added that onsite masses can be more strictly regulated, their number per day even limited, and church attendance restricted but “onsite masses should not be totally ruled out or absolutely suspended.”
The diocese said if they are to be suspended, it should only be for a “determined and even shorter period of time, i.e., within seven days max.”
“But even so, churches should be open during the day and remain accessible to people who might simply want to pass by or come visit and pray,” it said.
“An area can be specifically designated for the purpose and a person assigned thereto in order to monitor and ensure that its environmental condition and situation is constantly at par with health safety standards,” read the guidelines.
The guidelines, which was approved by Novaliches Bishop Roberto Gaa, may be accessed at the Facebook page of the diocese.