Coronavirus task force eases curb on religious services in GCQ areas

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2021 11:36 AM

Devotees attend a Mass to celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene at the San Sebastian Church in Manila on Jan. 9, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The inter-agency task force leading the country's pandemic response is easing a curb on religious services in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) beginning next week, Malacañang said on Friday. 

Starting Monday, religious services are allowed to fill up to 50 percent of venue capacity in GCQ areas, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. Religous gatherings were previously allowed to fill only 30 percent of a venue's seating capacity under this lockdown level. 

"Nakikita natin na hindi naman po tumataas ang ating [COVID-19] attack rate at hindi naman po masikip iyong ating mga ospital, pagamutan," Roque said, when asked why authorities eased the restriction. 

(We see that our COVID-19 attack rate is not rising and our hospitals are not swamped.)

But for the rest of the month, Metro Manila, the Cordilleras, and 6 other areas will remain under GCQ, the third strictest of 4 lockdown levels. 
The rest of the country is under modified GCQ, the least stringent level, where religious gatherings were earlier allowed to fill 50 percent of venue capacity. 

Bishops earlier urged authorities to relax crowd limit for religious gatherings. 

The Philippines has tallied some 543,000 coronavirus infections, as of Thursday.