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IATF may consider increased capacity for religious events
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday hinted at the possibility that the IATF, of which he is a member, might include in its meeting the topic of raising the number of people allowed to attend religious events in the country.
Edd Gumban, file

IATF may consider increased capacity for religious events

Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - February 9, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With Ash Wednesday set on Feb. 17 and Catholics commemorating 500 years of Christianity in the country, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) might take up the request to increase the allowed capacity for religious events in its next meeting.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday hinted at the possibility that the IATF, of which he is a member, might include in its meeting the topic of raising the number of people allowed to attend religious events in the country.

Some Catholic Church officials were reported to have asked the government to expand the allowed capacity for religious activities after the OCTA Research Group said the holiday season and the Feast of the Black Nazarene last Jan. 9 did not cause any significant spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Guevarra earlier noted that the IATF might include the request of the prelates in their agenda if there was a formal request. But up until yesterday morning, Guevarra said “the IATF has not received any formal request from any religious group.”

The IATF officials and members might meet either today or on Thursday.

At present, public religious worship is allowed to a maximum of 50 percent of the venue capacity in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) and 30 percent in areas classified under GCQ like the NCR.

Guevarra earlier said the OCTA findings could have “persuasive effects” on IATF policies. “If it could be shown to have a sound empirical basis. Of course the government’s own data will be controlling most of the time.”?He also admitted that allowing more people to take part in religious gatherings has been a contentious issue among IATF members.

“Often the question asked is ‘Is public worship such an essential activity that we should freely allow it during the pandemic, subject to the usual health protocols?’ Some people will say ‘yes’, others will say ‘no’,” Guevarra added.

But even if there are no religious leaders in the IATF, some task force members advocate for their cause such as himself and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

CHURCH IATF
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