Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has urged devotees of the Black Nazarene to worship from the safety of their homes as a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Feast of the Black Nazarene is a religious event that draws millions annually on Jan. 9, and culminates with a procession called the traslacion in the streets of Manila. For the first time ever, the procession was cancelled this year to prevent a spike in cases.
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"Nananawagan ako ulit, hindi naman siguro masama na hangga't maaari ay magdasal tayo sa loob ng bahay, yung relasyon natin sa Diyos i-practice natin between Jesus and you, ikaw mismo," Moreno said.
"Hindi natin kailangan i-expose ang ating sarili sa mga panganib. Hangga't maaari, sa mga deboto, ay limitahan natin ang pagtungo sa Poong Nazareno sa araw ng kapistahan," he added.
The streets of Villalobos, Carriedo, Hidalgo, as well as the newly rehabilitated Plaza Miranda are open to the devotees who are barred from entering Quiapo Church, Moreno said. Churches can only accomodate up to 30% capacity under current quarantine rules.
Face shields and face masks are being distributed to the devotees inside Quiapo Church in order to assure the safety of the public.
"Alam ko 10 months masakit sa ulo, emosyon, ekonomiya, trabaho, hanapbuhay, so huwag natin itapon sa basurahan yung sakripisyo natin ng sampung buwan," he said.
(I know it's 10 months of headaches, emotional, economic, and livelihood struggle, so let's not throw away our sacrifices for the past 10 months.)
The Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 meanwhile urged devotees and the public to avoid crowded and enclosed spaces, and instead partake in celebrations and prayers via radio, television, or online.
"Mas maganda pong sa bahay na lang at huwag na kayong pumunta dito sa Quiapo area para ma-avoid natin 'yung overcrowded [areas]," Manila Police District Director Brigadier General Leo Francisco said.
(It's better to stay at home and not go to the Quiapo area so we can avoid overcrowded [areas.])