Starting Monday, religious gatherings will be allowed in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), but only up to 50% of any venue's capacity, Justice Secretary Menardo Gueverra said Sunday.
This was the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said Secretary Gueverra, as many areas of the country transition to MGCQ.
In MGCQ, based on the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, the following temporary measures are relaxed and become less necessary: limiting movement and transportation, the regulation of operating industries, and the presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols.
"The IATF has agreed to allow religious gatherings up to a maximum of 50% of the capacity of the church or [any] venue in MGCQ areas starting June 1," Gueverra said in a text message to GMA News Online.
However, churchgoers in areas under the MGCQ will still have to observe health standards to avoid contracting the novel coronavirus, Guevarra said.
"[This is] subject to observance of minimum health requirements such as social distancing, use of face masks, sanitizing of hands, no physical contact, among others," he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte announced last week that all areas in the country will be placed under modified GCQ starting June 1, except for Metro Manila, Regions II, III, IV-A, and the provinces of Pangasinan and Albay and the cities of Davao, Baguio, and Iloilo, which will be under GCQ.
Cebu City and Mandaue City, meanwhile, previously announced to shift to modified enhanced community quarantine on June 1, will also be under GCQ, together with Region VII and Zamboanga City, the Palace announced on Saturday.
Unlike in modified GCQ areas, religious gatherings in GCQ areas are not encouraged although these should be limited to 10 persons in attendance.
Moreover, mass gatherings such as but not limited to movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment activities, community assemblies and non-essential work gatherings are still prohibited.
Gatherings that are intended for the provision of critical government services and authorized humanitarian activities while observing the minimum health standards will be allowed.
Likewise, outdoor non-contact sports and other forms of exercise such as walking, jogging, running, biking, golf, swimming, tennis, badminton, equestrian and skateboarding are allowed as long as the wearing of face masks, the maintenance of social distancing protocols and no sharing of equipment where applicable, are observed. —LBG/KG, GMA News