MANILA - The public is again prohibited to attend Holy Week celebrations in NCR Plus after government placed it on a weeklong strict lockdown, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said Sunday.
The Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 earlier allowed limited religious gatherings with a 10 percent maximum capacity but has since rescinded the order.
The NCR Plus bubble, which consists of Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal, would be placed under enhanced community quarantine from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday to curb the alarming rise in new COVID-19 cases.
"Hence, liturgical celebrations with the public in attendance in these areas are again prohibited, effective March 27, 2021 until April 4, 2021," said CBCP President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles.
Valles urged the public to "intensify our prayers to the Lord, praying among others, the Oratio Imperata and the Mass In Time of Pandemic."
"Let us pray in particular for the people in the archdiocese and dioceses in the NCR and neighboring provinces. Let us ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the fatherly protection of St. Joseph," he said.
"Second, let us not forget those suffering most from this pandemic, especially the poor families and those who lost their daily income in order to put food on the table. Together, let us put our efforts to bring mercy and compassion to them."
The public is also advised to "exert extra effort" in observing public health standards.
"Also, it is good for us to be always in close coordination with our local government and health authorities in this situation. And let us continue to remind our people of the urgency and importance of observing strictly these hygiene protocols every time and everywhere during this pandemic," he said.
"As we are about to end the season of Lent and enter into the celebration of the Paschal Triduum, may our prayers bring us more hope and confidence in the mercy and compassion of the Lord."
The Philippines on Saturday logged another record number of new infections at 9,595, with active infections breaching the 118,000-mark.
The day's new COVID-19 cases, the second highest announced by the Department of Health (DOH) since the pandemic hit the country over a year ago, pushed the country's cumulative tally to 712,442.
It is also the 3rd straight day that the day's fresh cases exceeded 8,000, data collated by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed.
Authorities and experts attribute the spike in new cases to the presence of more transmissible COVID-19 variants, the increased mobility of people following the gradual reopening of economy, and the public's non-compliance with health protocols.