Catholic prelates on Tuesday said a “no mask, no entry” policy will be strictly implemented during Masses once the government allows churches to reopen.
Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said his diocese will also limit the number of people that can be allowed inside the churches.
“As we look forward to new normal our churches will open to all, but observing physical distancing with a designated seating capacity of just one-third of its total capacity. Yes, “no mask, no entry,” he said in an interview.
He said thermal scanners and hygiene items will also be provided to parishes.
“The Diocese provides two thermal scanners for every parish, and supply of alcohol. Anyone who will exceed (37 degrees Celsius) temperature will be asked to rest at home. We have informed through our website, parish bulletins our senior citizens and below 20 not to attend holy masses. They are excused,” he said.
Santos, however, said he does not see the need to have a logbook for those who will attend Mass.
“And in every church, there is only one for its entry and exit. We will be strict for those who will attend, especially for above 60 and below 20 years of age,” he added.
While waiting for the government’s guidelines on the conduct of religious activities, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said they are prepared to implement the church’s guidelines as well.
“We still wait for government decree when we could start having masses but on our part we have prepared social distancing (and) ‘no mask, no entry’ (policy),” he added.
Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo said they will wait for the approved guidelines by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID).
“All will have to have a mask. We are still waiting for approval of our guidelines by NTF (National Task Force), then IATF. So far, they do not require registration of names but if they do we can find ways to do it,” he said.
The Catholic Church has earlier submitted its guidelines on the conduct of religious activities for the approval of the IATF.
Mass gatherings, including religious activities, are restricted to a maximum of five and 10 persons under the modified enhanced community quarantine and the general community quarantine, respectively.
Meanwhile, these remain prohibited under the enhanced community quarantine. (Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)