PHILIPPINE authorities refused to lift the ban on the public celebrations of religious activities in the capital and in other areas under strict community quarantine.
Government spokesman Harry Roque said he understands that people want to go to places of worship but said their health is still a priority.
“We all want to go to church already but we have to protect everyone’s health,” he said. He appealed to the public to practice their faith in their homes.
“We can pray and have a relationship with God from our homes, and via video,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, June 15, extended the “general community quarantine” or GCQ period in the capital Manila and in several other areas because of the continued increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The rest of the country remains under the less strict “modified general community quarantine” until June 30.
Lockdown restrictions have been eased nationwide since June 1, with the president placing Metro Manila and other “high-risk” areas under a more lenient GCQ to gradually reopen the economy.
“We are gradually easing restrictions to make way for our economic viability as individuals and as a nation,” said President Rodrigo Duterte in a late night television address.
The rest of the country remains under the “modified general community quarantine” that allows more people to go outside, businesses to operate, and mass gatherings for religious purposes at 50 percent of the venue’s capacity.
The city of Cebu reverted to the stricter “enhanced community quarantine” due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and the widespread community transmission in the city.
The city has emerged as the epicenter of the outbreak in the central Philippines with more than 3,300 cases recorded last week.
As of June 15, the Philippines has a total of 26,420 COVID-19 cases with 1,098 deaths and 6,252 people who recovered from the disease.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila earlier called on the government allow the public celebration of religious activities because there are many big churches in the country.
“The one-size-fits-all directive is really unreasonable,” said the prelate.
Local government officials said it would be difficult for them to implement distancing measures inside places of worship.