The caretaker of Quiapo Church, one of Metro Manila's most visited, made the case to keep houses of worship open during the quarantine bubble, saying churches are safer than shopping malls.
Masses were forced to shift to streaming after tighter quarantines in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna banned public gatherings. Weddings and baptisms were limited to 10 attendees. Quiapo Church will allow 100 visitors at a time or 10% of its capacity.
"Mas ligtas sa simbahan kaysa pumunta at payagan natin sa mall. Napatunayan naman po natin 'yan nung Simbang Gabi, dito sa Quiapo mismo nung Pista ng Nazareno," Quiapo Church vicar Fr. Douglas Badong told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
At present, people are also barred from staying at Plaza Miranda, which fronts Quiapo Church, officially known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. The Church is looking to appeal this decision, as restaurants were allowed al fresco or outdoor dining in the GCQ Bubble. "Medyo hindi namin makita 'yung logic," Badong said.
"Sana po mas makita nila ang kahalagahan din po nito. Ang nais namin makatulong, mauplift po ang morale ng mga tao," he said.
Badong said churches had in the past voluntarily ceased operations in case of a COVID case in their premises.
Whether or not people are present during Holy Week, Badong said activities will resume on Holy Week. Prayers, masses, and traditions can be livestreamed and watched from home.
On Sunday, Metro Manila, Antipolo, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna—called NCR Plus—were placed in a GCQ bubble until Apr. 4 with tighter restrictions to arrest the spread of the virus. Restrictions included a ban on religious gatherings of more than 10 people.