MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has retracted its recent decision to allow essential work and religious gatherings in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ), Malacañang said on Friday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said essential work-related and religious activities are now prohibited in places where GCQ is imposed.
The latest development came after the IATF-EID heeded the local officials’ request to suspend the work and religious gatherings in areas that are placed under GCQ, Roque said during the Laging Handa program aired on state-run PTV-4.
“Pinagbabawal po muli ang mass gathering, even for religious activities or ‘yung work-related gatherings. So balik po tayo sa rule na bawal pa rin ang mass gathering po (Mass gathering, even for religious activities or work-related gatherings, is once again prohibited. So we will follow the previous rule that mass gathering is not allowed),” he said.
The IATF-EID’s meeting held Friday is still ongoing, as of press time.
Roque initially announced on Thursday that essential work and religious gatherings are allowed in areas under GCQ, as long as measures such as strict social distancing of at least two meters and use of face mask or other protective equipment are observed.
The resumption of essential work gatherings and religious activities, however, was opposed local officials residing in areas where GCQ is imposed, as well as from several lawmakers.
Local officials and lawmakers have argued that allowing essential work and religious gatherings might increase the chances of having more coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections in the country.
Roque said religious sectors in the country have already been consulted about the government’s move to suspend anew the religious activities amid the Covid-19 crisis.
“Sang-ayon naman po sila na kinakailangan pangalagaan muna ang kalusugan ng mga nananampalataya so sang-ayon po sila na huwag munang ituloy ang mga religious meeting habang tayo po ay merong GCQ (They agreed to suspend religious meetings in areas under GCQ because they believe public health is more important),” he said.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, religious leaders have new ways to connect to people who are required to observe strict home quarantine, Roque said.
“So para po maiwasan nga ang pagkalat ng Covid-19, pinagbabawal po muna ngayon ang religious gatherings. Sana po malinaw iyan (To avoid further spread of Covid-19, religious gatherings are prohibited. I hope it’s clear to everyone),” he said.
GCQ is imposed in areas considered with moderate- and low-risk in the spread of Covid-19.
On the other hand, enhanced community quarantine is still imposed in Metro Manila; Central Luzon, except Aurora; Calabarzon; Pangasinan; Benguet; Iloilo province; Iloilo City; Bacolod City; Cebu province; Cebu City; and Davao City since these are considered high-risk areas.
As of Thursday, the Philippines has recorded 8,488 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 568 deaths and 1,043 recoveries. (PNA)