CEBU City Mayor Edgardo Labella on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, issued a memorandum allowing barangays to livestream the Fiesta Señor novena masses in their multipurpose halls or sports centers in a bid to minimize crowds in and outside the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.
Labella, however, directed the 80 barangay captains in Cebu City to strictly enforce physical distancing and wearing of face masks.
The novena masses will be held for nine days beginning Friday, Jan. 8.
Aside from the barangays, 54 media entities and other institutions have asked to be permitted to cross post the livestream of the novena masses on their social media accounts, according to Basilica rector Fr. Pacifico Nohara, Jr.
Some parishes will also be holding their own novena masses.
Police Col. Josefino Ligan, Cebu City Police Office director, said in a press conference Wednesday that 500 security personnel will be deployed to man the Basilica’s entrance and exit points as well as secure its immediate vicinity.
They will include members of the Task Force Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor (CBS), and force multipliers.
Ligan said they will be tasked to ensure compliance to safety protocols during the novena masses, on the Feast Day and during other religious activities in celebration of the 456th Fiesta Señor.
The Basilica will open shortly after 3 a.m., as soon as safety and security preparations are done at the end of the 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. curfew.
Devotees may enter through the D. Jakosalem and Plaza Sugbo gates and exit through the gates along Osmeña Blvd.
Quarantine passes or company IDs are required.
Everyone is also required to wear face masks and face shields.
Backpacks and picture taking are not allowed.
Fr. Aladdin Luzon, head of the Sto. Niño at 500 Committee, said in the same press conference that a disinfection facility and holding area have been installed at every entrance to screen devotees before they are allowed to enter the Basilica.
Individuals whose body temperature exceeds 37.5 degrees Celsius will be asked to stay at the holding facility for about five minutes before he or she will be checked again.
Those with body temperatures exceeding this will not be allowed to enter.
“If you are interested in visiting the Basilica, please be conscious of your health. If you feel weak, just stay at home because this time is crucial,” he said.
Immunocompromised individuals, the elderly, pregnant women and children are also advised to just hear masses online. Persons below 15 years old and over 65 years old are not allowed to go out of their homes yet.
Mass attendees are reminded to avoid touching the images inside the Basilica and are advised to receive communion by hands.
The Pilgrim Center, which has a capacity of 6,000 people, will accommodate only up to 1,500 churchgoers in compliance with physical distancing rules.
Chairs and umbrellas are provided within the Pilgrim Center. Those staying outside the church are encouraged to bring their own chairs and umbrellas.
As has been the practice in the past years, speakers and projector screens will be put up in strategic areas outside the Basilica.
The number of people who will be allowed to stay within the immediate vicinity of the Basilica will be known once all the markers are installed.
Ligan said they started installing the markers on Monday, Jan. 4.
Anyone found loitering outside the immediate vicinity of the Basilica will be advised to go home and hear mass online.
Vehicle parking is not allowed within the 300-meter radius from the entrances to the Basilica. There will be designated parking areas nearby. (WBS / PAC)