The Philippine government has withdrawn its earlier statement that it will allow religious gatherings in areas under “general community quarantine,” or GCQ, starting May 1.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease will still have to discuss on Friday, May 1, whether religious activities in some areas will be allowed.
Earlier today, Roque said authorities will allow religious gatherings in areas placed under general community quarantine, provided that social distancing and other health protocols will be observed.
Later this evening, however, Roque said he was bombarded with complaints and protests from local government officials after he announced the initial decision of the inter-agency task force.
“Some officials protested …. They told me that it would be impossible to implement proper physical distancing in religious gatherings,” he said.
“One mayor said it would be a great challenge to avoid people from congregating, especially now that we are observing Ramadan, if we will allow public attendance in religious activities,” added Roque.
He appealed to the religious sector to postpone gatherings and “wait for the announcement” on Friday.
The Omnibus Guidelines on the implementation of the “general community quarantine” that was issued earlier states that: “essential work gatherings and religious activities may continue so long as strict social distancing, defined as strict maintenance of at least two meters distance between and among those attending, and the mandatory wearing of face mask, face shield, or other facial protective equipment by attendees is maintained during the entirety of the event.”