Mandaue limits church gatherings to 10 persons

THE Mandaue City Government has allowed all religious denominations in its jurisdiction to hold indoor public religious activities as the city has been under general community quarantine (GCQ) status since Monday, June 1, 2020.

However, the Executive Order (EO) 77 issued by Mayor Jonas Cortes mandates that every gathering must only be attended by not more than 10 persons.

Limiting attendance in churches is meant to achieve social distancing in public spaces, and slow down the transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019.

Last Tuesday, June 2, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued EO 17-F allowing public religious activities in all parishes in Cebu Province as long as the parishes observe health protocol and reduce the attendance to only 50 percent.

The Archdiocese of Cebu on May 20 ordered the opening of churches in towns and component cities when Cebu Province transitioned to GCQ. Six days later, Garcia issued EO 17-A allowing, but not encouraging, religious gatherings in Cebu Province limited to 10 persons. Garcia’s issuance of EO 17-F superseded EO 17-A.

IATF rule

Cortes issued EO 77 in line with the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases for the resumption of religious gatherings.

The IATF has allowed the conduct of religious gatherings in areas placed under GCQ and modified enhanced community quarantine, so long as the maximum number of participants is 10, reported the Philippine News Agency.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has yet to issue an EO allowing religious gatherings with more than 10 persons in attendance.

Garcia’s EO 17-F takes effect only in 44 towns and six component cities -- Bogo, Danao, Talisay, Carcar, Naga and Toledo. The cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu are independent cities.

Labella will help Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and Msgr. Roberto Alesna in asking the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Regional IATF for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to gradually allow religious activities with more than 10 persons in attendance in Cebu City.

He said the city has big churches that can accommodate a number of people, and social distancing would not be a problem in these religious venues.

In Mandaue City, lawyer John Eddu Ibañez, Cortes’ executive secretary, said church personnel must implement social distancing and prevent persons from going inside churches if they are not wearing masks.

San Roque Parish in Barangay Subangdaku announced on its Facebook page that it will hold public Masses again. However, the church will temporarily not allow those who are 60 years old and above and 20 years old and below to attend the Mass as per government protocol.

The parish encouraged them to watch the live streams of its Masses. The other Catholic churches in Mandaue City such as the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Barangay Centro, the Holy Family Parish in Barangay Maguikay and the Catholic Church of Christ of the Agony-Gethsemane Parish still prefer to hold their Masses online. (KFD and JJL)