Don't be surprised if next year's Feast of the Black Nazarene isn't what it used to be, especially with COVID-19 essentially prohibiting mass gatherings.
"There will be big changes in January 9. We are hoping that devotees are open to these changes," said parochial vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene Fr. Douglas Badong in a radio interview. "It will only happen during this pandemic and we need their cooperation to be able to still celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene."
According to Badong, Quiapo Church priests are already discussing their proposal as early as now, with the procession committee meeting before consulting the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases about the protocol.
Church officials are also looking into the possibility of cancelling the Luneta activites, such as the kissing of the Black Nazarene (pahalik) and midnight Mass. As per tradition, millions join the procession (traslacion) from the Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church.
"We really need to practice or at least the people will get used to, on what we want to implement, physical distancing while they go to church for the novenario of the traslacion," Badong said.