Since the start of the quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Masses, church gatherings, and other events have been postponed or canceled to avoid further spread of the virus. Churches were forced to transition into holding Holy Masses online via livestream and churches had to be cordoned off to prevent the public from gathering.
Fiestas and other religious celebrations were also either postponed or canceled to avoid hundreds of people from gathering in one place, which could in turn increase the risk of people contracting the disease. (Read: Here are some events that were canceled or postponed due to COVID-19)
But as the country shifts from a strict quarantine (enhanced community quarantine or equivalent) to one with looser restrictions, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is looking into resuming religious celebrations.
In an Unang Hirit interview with CBCP Committee on Public Affairs Executive Secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano, it was said that they are considering resuming these festivals as they do not draw large crowds, except during the Holy Week. (Read: A list of PH churches where you can hear Holy Mass during the quarantine)
“Kung mapapansin mo ‘yung tinatawag na religious festivals natin katulad ng prusisyon ay nangyayari naman ‘yan sa mga fiesta,” Fr. Secillano says. “Halimbawa, fiesta sa Quiapo. Merong prusisyon ‘yan pero hindi naman ‘yan ‘yung tipong tinatao talaga ng napakarami unless, of course, kapag ‘yan ay prusisyon ng Holy Week.”
Fr. Secillano clarifies that the decision to hold these celebrations is at the discretion of the parish priests. He also reminds everyone that if these religious festivals do push through, they have to remember to observe health protocols such as wearing of face masks and physical distancing. (Read: ‘Strict social distancing’ shall be observed during Mass – CBCP)
However, Fr. Secillano, who is part of the CBCP’s technical working group, will still have to discuss it with the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). This is because mass gatherings—including religious celebrations—are still not allowed under the general community quarantine (GCQ) scheme.
The IATF would still have to decide on the matter after their talk with the CBCP’s technical working group.