THE Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu will now allow a maximum of 1,000 individuals to attend its every mass schedule.
Fr. Aladdin Luzon made the announcement on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, four days after Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella issued Executive Order (EO) 89, which outlines the local executive’s modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) policies, including those for Roman Catholic churches and other religious organizations.
Community quarantine is imposed by the National Government to slow down the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the community.
Labella, in his EO 89 issued last Aug. 31, allows masses and other religious gatherings at up to 50 percent capacity as Cebu City’s quarantine status shifted to MGCQ from Sept. 1 to 30.
When Cebu City was still in general community quarantine status in August, the mayor allowed churches to hold masses with 10 percent of their seating capacity.
Health experts consider religious gatherings as one of the super-spreader events of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
To contain the risk of more Covid-19 transmissions in public gatherings, the government prohibits full seating capacity in venues so the participants can observe a safe distance among themselves.
According to Luzon, an attendance of 1,000 individuals is not the actual 50 percent of the Basilica’s holding capacity.
“The Basilica is just careful not to compromise the physical distancing protocol. That’s why 1,000 is actually based on the allowable number of persons as reflected on our count of the markers for physical distancing in the Pilgrim Center ground,” he said.
The Basilica opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. every day.
Before Cebu City was placed under MGCQ, the Basilica had only accommodated 350 persons every mass schedule.
Luzon said the same health and safety measures will be observed inside the Basilica. The churchgoers must wear masks.
The movement of pilgrims and devotees inside the Pilgrim Center will be controlled; they will only be allowed to enter in limited areas.
Luzon said churchgoers are not allowed to loiter, take pictures and touch statues.
“They can visit limited areas to ensure the safety of everyone,” he said.
Luzon said those who want to light candles can enter using a separate entrance gate. Confessions are still suspended and the Basilica’s chapel remains closed to the public.
The persons who cannot personally attend the mass, the Basilica has online coverage for its 8 a.m English mass every day and fort its 2 p.m. Cebuano mass every Friday and Sunday. / WBS