Crowds continue to swell on 2nd day of dawn Masses, police eye road closures near churches
CEBU CITY, Philippines – While the first two days of Misa de Gallo in Cebu City were generally peaceful, the crowd, particularly outside churches, did not seem to wane despite threats of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) estimated 36,000 churchgoers attended the second day of dawn Masses on Tuesday, December 17, 2020, in all 35 churches here.
CCPO director, Police Colonel Josefino Ligan, said they observed that the crowd is huge outside big churches such as the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and St. Therese Church in Barangay Lahug.
“The crowd in these churches overflowed since they can no longer get inside. They overflowed on to nearby streets,” said Ligan.
As a result, the police are planning to close several roads leading to big churches to prevent people from crowding and ensure minimum health standards are being observed.
“We suggested putting barriers especially around the Basilica and close the roads within the vicinity. We also plan to prohibit people from attending the Masses by standing on the roads,” said Ligan in Cebuano.
The CCPO official also admitted that they experienced difficulties in controlling the growing crowd outside churches.
“We don’t have specific control of human behavior. On the end of the police, we can strictly enforce the need to comply with health protocols but when it comes to crowd control, it’s quite difficult,” he added.
“This is one of the reasons why we decided to recommend to church officials to put barriers and implement road closures,” he explained.
The city government has allowed the conduct of Simbang Gabi and Misa de Gallo subject to several conditions, including implementation of health protocols. They also encouraged churches to livestream their Masses so devotees can virtually attend.
Following Tuesday’s events, the Basilica, for their part, also said they will be making adjustments in their protocols which included holding two separate Misa de Gallo in a day to distribute attendees.
RELATED STORY: Basilica to impose additional measures for Misa de Gallo
However, in some churches, these were not completely or strictly enforced with huge crowds gathering outside churches to attend the Masses.
In the meantime, Ligan assured that the police, together with the city government, will be conducting a daily assessments on Simbang Gabi and Misa de Gallo.
He added that they hoped the crowd gathering during the first two days of dawn Masses here will not result in a spike of new COVID-19 cases in the next few days. /rcg
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