Churches prepare physical distancing measures for post-ECQ

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 April) —  Catholic churches in Davao City are preparing measures to enforce physical distancing during the celebration of Holy Masses in preparation for the possible lifting of the extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) here, Mayor Sara Duterte said on Friday.

The city was placed under community quarantine on March 15, enhanced community quarantine from April 4 to April 19 but on Wednesday, the mayor said it would be extended for another week, until April 26.

A man walks by San Pedro Cathedral along an almost empty San Pedro Street, a main thoroughfare of Davao City, on 16 March 2020, under community quarantine. The city has been on enhanced community quarantine since April 4. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Speaking over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) 87.5, Duterte said she asked Msgr. Paul Cuison, the vicar of the Archdiocese of Davao, to prepare a plan on how the churches could enforce physical distancing to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among parishioners.

She said the Archdiocese would also coordinate with local health authorities so that it could present its proposed set-up for approval.

“I told them what they should prepare is doctor-approved. So, they told me that they would reach out to the doctor, so that the doctor can see what they have prepared,” she added.

In Executive Order (EO) No. 26 released on April 16, Duterte extended the ECQ until April 26.

Section 2 provides that the city government might reinstate the implementation of simple community quarantine on April 27, upon approval of the medical specialists.

Once approved, Duterte added the set-up would be presented to other churches so that they can adopt the proposal since most churches have similar seating arrangements.

“If we have model on how to create physical distancing, we will present this to others so that they can follow it,” she said.

She said she has yet to coordinate with religious Muslim leaders for the set-up in mosques where men stay together in one section and the women in another.

In a data released by the Department of Health-Davao Region, the agency recorded three new COVID-19 cases in the region, bringing the total to 99 as of 5 p.m. on Friday.

Davao City recorded the most number of cases with 83, Davao del Norte nine, Davao del Sur two, Davao de Oro two, and Davao Oriental 3. Davao Occidental has no confirmed case yet. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)