Tabuk City government in Kalinga allows churches to reopen
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Starting this June, Tabuk City in Kalinga, which has yet to have a confirmed COVID-19 case, will start opening up churches for masses.
Last May 31, Tabuk City Mayor Darwin Estrañero issued Executive Order No. 42 which specified under Section 3-E that religious gatherings are now allowed provided that they shall only accommodate half of the churches’ seating capacity to follow social distancing.
Estrañero added that precautionary measures like the use of face masks and washing of hands should still be followed.
Father Ace Blaquera of the Saint William’s Cathedral in Tabuk City said that the Catholic church is now open to all parishioners starting this week.
Blaquera said only 325 parishioners or a fourth of the seating capacity of the cathedral are allowed to join the masses.
Although hand sanitizers would be positioned at the entrances, Blaquera said parishioners should bring their own.
St Williams also issued its new mass schedule.
Even with the reopening of churches, the Vicariate of Tabuk continued to encourage parishioners – particularly the elderly, children, immuno-compromised and pregnant women – to stay in their homes and just join the cathedral’s online mass.
The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon (ENL) based in Tabuk City also issued its general guidelines on church gatherings and activities on June 1.
This is concerning the modified general community quarantine status of the diocese except for Cagayan and Isabela provinces which are still under general community quarantine (GCQ).
The EDNL guideline said that religious services and gatherings are now allowed to resume with strict compliance of 50% seating capacity to allow social distancing.
The guidelines also said that Episcopal churches now need to have ushers and marshalls to enforce crowd control, social distancing, and the use of face masks.
It said that each church could designate which zone or purok can enter specific services with Sundays only designated for the Holy Eucharist.
Church leaders are also asked to disinfect the pews and other facilities after each service.
The government's coronavirus task force earlier announced that starting June 1, religious gatherings in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) will be allowed as long as they occupy only half of the church or religious venue.
Religious activities continue to be prohibited in areas under GCQ. – Rappler.com