IATF defers to Church, eases assembly rules

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has approved religious gatherings during the last four days of the Holy Week.

Task force and Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. announced the easing of restrictions on religious congregations on Friday.
Roque said churches and other places of worship can hold services at 10-percent capacity from April 1 to 4.

He said the easing of mass assembly rules applies not only to the Catholic Church but to other religions such as Islam.

The IATF-EID made the decision during its meeting on Thursday, following the request of Catholic Church officials to allow worshippers to attend services during Holy Week, which will coincide with the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.

The government had banned all mass assemblies in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal until April 4 to stem the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Roque said the task force encourages the adoption of a reservation system to help churches observe to the 10-percent capacity requirement.

Church attendees are prohibited from gathering outside of churches. The IATF-EID also prohibited the use of audiovisual systems outside of venues while the church service is ongoing.

Live singing in places of worship will be strictly limited, while recorded singing is encouraged, Roque said.

Amid the strict restrictions in place in the so-called Metro Manila bubble, Roque said the task force is encouraging the public to attend religious services through online platforms.