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Churchgoers can expect smaller Masses under the new normal

The government's IATF is yet to decide on the guidelines for mass gatherings, but churches are hopeful that Holy Masses will soon resume.

Churches, just like majority of establishments in the country, have been closed ever since the enhanced community quarantine was imposed in the National Capital Region and some provinces.

Parishes have resorted to holding Holy Masses via livestream without any physical audience, as public gatherings were disallowed by the Department of Health, World Health Organization, and the national government.

Pastor Nicolas Sanchez is seen on his iPhone used to live-stream in celebration of Easter Vigil Mass at St. Patrick Church in North Hollywood, California. (Photo from AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes / Outlook India)

However, as Metro Manila and all other provinces under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) will shift to the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ), more establishments will now be allowed to reopen for the public.

This includes churches, but holding of Holy Masses will be decided on by the national government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). (Read: Here’s what you can expect on 2020 weddings, baptisms, Sunday Masses)

The IATF received a request that churches and parishes be allowed to hold physical Masses on the condition that only 20% of its regular capacity will be filled with audiences. This limitation of audience present is to observe physical distancing between individuals sitting in the pews in church.

Catholics attending mass while maintaining social distancing at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, South Korea, on April 23, 2020. (Photo from EPA-EFE / Straits Times Singapore)

May mga usapin sa IATF na hindi pa natataposBaka raw puwede na sa GCQ ay payagan kahit 20 percent ng seating capacity iyong misa. Wala pa tayong pinal na desisyon d’yan, inaaral pa iyan,” said Secretary Eduardo Año of the Department of Interior and Local Government. He adds that the IATF will decide on it in their next meeting, but it is sure that no physical Masses can still be held on June 1.

Right now, in areas under the modified enhanced community quarantine, only five people are allowed to attend religious gatherings. On the other hand, cities and provinces under the general community quarantine will be allowed to have 10 people attending a religious gathering at once, according to the government’s quarantine guidelines.

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