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Metro Manila Dioceses To Hold Virtual Masses Until August 20

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco says that churches will reopen on August 21, if conditions improve.

On Friday, July 30, the Malacañang announced that the National Capital Region (NCR) will remain under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions until August 5. However, the day after, on August 6, NCR will be placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until August 20.

The declaration of ECQ is in light of the faster rate of infection of the Delta variant of COVID-19. The latest variant was discovered in India back in December, and has since been found to be a highly contagious variant. (Read: What is the difference between MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ?)

With this, all dioceses in Metro Manila have already ordered the suspension of all physical masses in the region until August 20.

Switch to virtual masses

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Catholics have employed the internet to connect with their faith and communities during shutdowns caused by the rapid spread of the coronavirus. (Photo from Katie Rutter/CNS/Crux Now)

Masses will once again be solely celebrated virtually from July 31 to August 20, following the order of dioceses. According to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), “From the Manila archdiocese to the dioceses of Cubao, Novaliches, Pasig, Parañaque, and Kalookan, bishops are encouraging the faithful to stay at home.”

According to Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, churches will be reopened on August 21 if the situation improves. For now, he said, they are encouraging everyone to stay at home. (Read: Here’s The Truth About The Delta COVID-19 Variant That You Should Know)

Bishop Jesse Mercado of Parañaque added that while the physical Masses are suspended, funeral and wake Masses are still allowed in Parañaque, but will have to strictly observe health protocols. He also said that churches may be left open for personal prayers, given that visitors are wearing PPEs and observing minimum health protocols.

“We continue to storm heaven with our prayers especially in this uncertain situation of our time,” Bishop Mercado said. “May our prudent and faithful observance of our protocols ensure the safety of our family and country.”

Delta variant in PH

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This photo taken on April 6, 2021, shows a man wearing personal protective equipment walking into a makeshift ward built for COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Manila. (Photo from Jam Sta Rosa/AFP)

According to OCTA Research, the latest data and indicators they have are showing that there might already be community transmission of the Delta variant in the country. “The rapid growth rate [of cases] suggests the possibility of community transmission of the Delta variant in the NCR,” the group said.

The Department of Health (DOH) has yet to acknowledge this, but has said that the public should prepare for it. (Read: No ‘Merry Christmas’ for Pinoys if Delta Variant Spreads)

OCTA added that NCR is under a “serious surge” due to the 1,740 logged cases on July 31, which is the highest number since May when the region was under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ).

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