MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 response will meet Monday with representatives from the religious sector and local government units in areas to be placed under general community quarantine to discuss guidelines on religious gatherings under looser restrictions, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Saturday.
"The IATF will make a final resolution on the same day," Guevarra said.
Guevarra said religious gatherings will be allowed up to 50 percent of the capacity of a church or any venue in areas under a modified GCQ.
Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Pangasinan province, Central Visayas, Davao City and Zamboanga City will transition to GCQ on Monday, while the rest of the country will be under modified general quarantine.
Guevarra said religious groups have presented numerous health protocols and stringent measures they plan to implement once greater attendance in public worship or religious service is allowed in GCQ areas.
Such gatherings have been barred since lockdown measures were enforced in mid-March.
Under the IATF's Revised Omnibus Guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine, religious gatherings shall only be limited to not more than 10 people, otherwise modified by the subsequent issuances of the IATF.
"However, some local government officials have expressed concern that increasing the number of participants in religious gatherings may spark an upsurge in COVID-19 infections and derail their advancement to a more relaxed MGCQ regime. Hence, the need for a dialogue between the religious sector and the LGU group on Monday morning," Guevarra said.
Early this month, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo slammed as "unreasonable" government's limitations on religious gatherings in terms of the number of persons allowed.
He said the government should have instead recommended 1 to 2 meters of physical distancing between individuals inside churches.
Filipinos shifted to hearing online Mass and religious services when quarantine regulations took effect.
– reports from Mike Navallo and Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News