Churches reopen on July 11

By: Tina G. Santos - Philippine Daily Inquirer July 08,2020 - 09:28 AM

Catholic Church leaders are reminding the faithful to adhere to health protocols against the coronavirus as churches reopen for religious activities after restrictions were eased in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).

Religious gatherings in churches and other places of worship in areas under GCQ will be allowed starting July 11 but only at 10 percent of the venue’s capacity.

“We rejoice that we are now allowed … to hold religious gatherings. With great joy, I am happy to announce that we will reopen our churches beginning July 11 … for the public celebrations of the sacraments and sacramentals,” said Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara in a letter address to the faithful in his diocese.

“We remind our faithful that this does not mean that the virus is already gone. The virus is still very much around, which is why I enjoin you to observe precautions,” he added.

Vergara said those below 21 and 60 years old and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities and other health risks, as well as pregnant women must stay home and join the livestream celebration of Masses instead.

Masses after 2 p.m. of Saturday using Sunday liturgy can be considered anticipated Sunday Mass, he said, adding that dispensation from Sunday obligation would still be temporarily maintained.

Vergara issued an administrative decree on July 6, reminding the faithful of the protocols to be observed for the reopening of churches.

“All the faithful shall wear masks or face shields or cloth coverings; the no-mask, no-entry policy shall be strictly enforced,” the decree said.

It added that each faithful shall undergo body temperature screening, will be required to wash or sanitize hands and pass through a footbath container before entering the church.

An overall limit to the number of faithful shall be regulated based on the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and depending on the size of the church without prejudice to the prescribed physical distancing, said Vergara.

He said seats would be demarcated so that physical distancing can be observed.

An option would be to direct “excess” churchgoers to adjacent spacious areas where a second priest is designated to hold a concurent mass, the bishop said.

Vergara advised priests to “keep homilies short, i.e. no more than 10 minutes without compromising the profundity of the Good News.” INQ

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TAGS: 10 percent capacity, churches to reopen, GCQ areas, July 11

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