Catholics attend Mass while maintaining physical distancing at the Cubao Cathedral July 15 | PHOTO FROM THE DIOCESE OF CUBAO

Aug 7 2020

MANILA – With coronavirus cases spiking in the country, the government has issued new orders restricting movements including the suspension of public Masses in mega Manila and nearby areas.

Metro Manila and four provinces have been placed under a stricter quarantine status again from Aug. 4 to Aug. 18 upon medical frontliners’ call for tighter restrictions.

Aside from the Manila archdiocese, modified enhanced community quarantine status will cover 9 other dioceses: Cubao, Kalookan, Parañaque, Novaliches, Pasig, Antipolo, Imus, Malolos and San Pablo.

The decision was announced after President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with key Cabinet officials on Sunday as Covid-19 infections surged past 100,000.

Before the government order, the archdiocese Manila and the dioceses of Cubao and Parañaque have already announced the temporary suspension of public liturgical services for two weeks.

In a pastoral instruction issued Aug. 1, Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the decision was made in response to the appeal of the medical community for a “time out” to arrest the Covid-19 surge.

“We share the compassion of the medical frontliners for the many sick people being brought to our hospitals. We have witnessed their dedicated service to those who come to them. Many among them are tired and even discouraged by their heavy responsibilities. So we support their appeal for a ‘time out,’” Pabillo said.

The doctors also called for a period of time to reassess the country’s response to the pandemic.

“It seems that the current responses are not working because the cases are rising after four months and a half of quarantine,” Pabillo said.

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao said the situation also calls for the Church to evaluate how it can better help those who are suffering.

He asked the faithful “to be diligent” in practicing simple health protocols such as physical distancing, wearing of face masks and frequent washing of hands.

“Our compliance will help save lives and stem this virus,” Ongtioco said.

For his part, Bishop Jesse Mercado of Parañaque appealed, “Let us intensify our support to our beloved frontliners, especially our prayers for their strength and good health, as well as protection of their families against Covid-19”.

Religious gatherings in areas under MECQ would be highly restricted and limited to five persons.