Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi on Thursday issued an updated guideline on church activities as a measure to help prevent a surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Based on Diocesan Circular No. 2, Series of 2022, parishes must follow the 30-percent church capacity from the previous 50 percent.
“We shall also observe very limited church activities. Children below 12 years old are not yet permitted inside the church. Hence, there will be no celebration of First Communion for now. Rather, they are advised to stay at home and join online church celebrations,” the circular read.
Baylon also said wake masses in residences and funeral parlors are not yet allowed and priests may instead administer a blessing or short prayer for the dead.
No mass confirmations and weddings may also be held until May 15.
Masses in malls and offices are allowed provided that the venue is an open space or outdoors.
“While we have allowed the Saturday Eucharist of the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, we are, however, discouraging this at this time because of the ongoing surge of Covid-19 cases in the province. No regular confession and anointing of the sick and the dying. As an alternative, priests and relatives of the sick can pray the prayer for the sick during this pandemic,” the circular added.
Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration (PEA) chapels will not yet admit the faithful since they are closed and small spaces. Instead, the faithful are encouraged to pray and visit the big churches. Overnight youth formation activities and the like are not yet permitted.
Also, face-to-face meetings in big groups are highly discouraged and instead encouraged to be done online.
Baylon, in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), said christenings are still allowed provided that a limited number of children and guests will be observed to avoid overcrowding.
“The 30-percent capacity is for the masses, while for baptism, there will be a limit as to the number of children so that overcrowding will be prevented,” he said.
The prelate also reminded parishioners that they must strictly observe the health protocols such as wearing face masks at all times, including weddings and funerals, temperature checking before entering the church, hand sanitizing, and physical distancing.
“We continue fervently praying the Oratio Imperata against Covid-19. May God, through the intercession of Our Lady of Salvation, protect us and keep us safe,” the bishop said. (PNA)