By Rose de la Cruz | Published: October 20, 2020
If restaurants, malls, and other public places are now free to allow people in, why not the churches. Why limit the attendance in churches to only 10 percent capacity?
Thus asked Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes of the Senior Partylist who pushed for more lenient rules by the inter-agency task force (IATF) on managing infectious diseases, which earlier limited church attendance to 10 percent capacities.
Mahalaga sa ating seniors ang pagsisimba. I strongly believe it is time for the IATF and local governments to issue new guidelines on attendance in religious gatherings at the various places of worship nationwide.
Ten percent seating capacity of places of worship is too restrictive and does not promote mental health among our citizens just when they need to lift their spirits. We must also consider that there are many religious occasions in the months ahead like Christmas.
The quarantine restrictions for places of worship should not be far behind those of other public places like malls and restaurants.
He suggested these guidelines to the IATF and the various religious leaders:
- IN MECQ and ECQ AREAS: Allowing u to 15 percent seating capacity inside churches and physical distancing of at least two meters (6 feet) inside and outside.
- IN GCQ AREAS: Allowing 20 percent seating capacity inside the venue in places of workshop and physical distancing of at least 2 meters (6 feet) inside and outside.
- IN MGCQ AREAS: Churches with under 200 persons seating capacity to be allowed 20 percent seating capacity inside and physical distancing of at least two meters (6 ft) inside and outside.
- For places of worship of over 200 to 500 persons seating capacity to be allowed up to 30 percent seating capacity inside and physical distancing of at least two meters (6 ft) inside and outside
- For places of worship with over 500 persons seating capacity to be allowed up to 40 percent seating capacity inside and physical distancing of at least two meters (6 ft) inside and outside.
- ALL QUARANTINE ZONES: For all places of worship, the entrance and exit areas should be always unimpeded and all doors and windows shall be wide open to allow for good circulation of fresh air.
And for small group meetings, he suggested that preferred mode is online group chat but for MGCQ places where internet signals are weak, personal attendance may be allowed and in such cases, the faith leaders must make sure all small group meetings with physical attendees be held outside their usual places of worship with physical distancing of 2 meters with wearing of masks and face shields, handwashing protocols observed. In no instance shall small group meetings have more than 12 participants in personal attendance.
For religious retreats, “bubble” conditions may be allowed by religious leaders. Details of these retreat bubbles can be patterned after the bubbles of the sports sector. But retreat bubbles should not have more than 20 people.