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City, Religious Sector Agree To Open Church Services

The city government and the religious sector on June 3 agreed to reopen church services during the Modified General Community Quarantine period subject to guidelines compliant with the health and safety standards on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) prevention and control.

In a consultation meeting attended by leaders of the religious organizations, Mayor Benjamin Magalong acknowledged that church services are essential activities that should be allowed under the MGCQ.

As agreed, churches and groups will have to submit their guidelines to mayor and ocular inspection of their churches, mosques or prayer halls will be conducted.

Services will only commence after the approval of the guidelines and issuance of certificates of compliance by the city government.

Some of the rules discussed during the consultation meeting were:

*Limiting attendees to 10 percent of the capacity of the church, mosque or prayer hall. Senior Citizens and those younger than 20 will be allowed to join Sunday services but Sunday school for children will not be allowed still;

*Strict observance of all health protocols i.e. one meter-radius physical distancing, use of masks and availability of alcohol;

*List of attendees with details must be made available for contact tracing; and

*Time of Sunday services shall only be from 6:00 AM to 2:00 pm.

During the consultation, church leaders led by Baguio Apostolic Vicar Rev. Victor Bendico of the Catholic Church and Rev. Pastor Robbie Cases of the Protestant churches and Rev. Pastor Voltaire Acosta who heads the Presidential Commission on Religious Affairs committed to comply with all the precautionary measures as they do not want to complicate the COVID-10 problem and jeopardize the programs of the city government.

Pastor Casas acknowledged the need to limit attendees as although they could ensure safety protocols inside churches, they could not do so anymore outside of it considering that churchgoers would have to take public transport. – A.Refuerzo

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