Cebu City officials laud ‘best new normal practices’ in churches

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | September 06,2020 - 07:32 PM

Cebu City officials laud ‘best new normal practices’ in churches

Social distancing measures are observed at the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva parish, Poblacion Pardo as seen on this September 6, 2020 photo. | Photo courtesy of Councilor Philip Zafra

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Officials in Cebu City have observed a larger number of churchgoers now that the city is under the most relaxed form of community quarantine.

But despite this, they lauded both church administrators and guests for observing minimum health standards as part of their precautionary measures against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

This is indeed a good development as we slowly resume our usual Sunday worship activities,” Mayor Edgardo Labella said in a statement published on Sunday, September 6.

Cebu City was downgraded to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) last September 1. This led the city government to allow religious gatherings at a maximum capacity of 50 percent, which is higher compared to the previous rule capping it at 10 percent only.

READ MORE: More churchgoers in Cebu City’s 1st Sunday of MGCQ

Councilor Philip Zafra, in a separate interview with CDN Digital on Sunday, said they had observed several ‘best practices’ being implemented in churches.

“One of the factors that made going to church during the first Sunday under MGCQ smooth was that our churches have imposed various practices to ensure minimum health standards are being complied with,” Zafra said in Cebuano.

Zafra and a team composed of authorities from various departments of the city government have been inspecting churches in Cebu City every Sunday.

Among the ‘best practices’ imposed in churches, he said, were instructing guests to wash their hands in a designated hand-washing area before entering church premises, and prohibiting entry to those who do not wear face masks, face shields, and have no quarantine passes or other relevant documents to present.

“Some also require attendees to place their information in a logbook before entering. Most churches have placed social distancing markers to guide everyone,” added Zafra.

Room for improvement

While Cebu City’s first Sunday under MGCQ went generally smooth, Zafra said they were planning to send recommendations in areas where they thought church administrators could improve.

“The most obvious need for improvement, based on our inspections, is for our churches to beef up their personnel,” said Zafra.

Now that churches can hold gatherings with an increased capacity, the councilor said there should be more people assigned to monitor and ensure health protocols were being sustained.

“We are actually expecting more people to gather in churches in the next Sundays so it’s just appropriate that more personnel will be around to oversee,” he explained.

Zafra also said church administrators could reach out to the city government if they would need further assistance. /dbs

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TAGS: Cebu City Councilor Philip Zafra, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, Cebu City MGCQ, Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ)

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