Devotees allowed to celebrate Sto. Niño feast in Davao City’s Shrine Hills  but…

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 10 January) —  The celebration of the feast of Sto. Niño at the Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague at Shrine Hills in Matina, in Davao City will push through on January 15, the surge in COVID-19 cases notwithstanding.

But only masses will be allowed and only 100 persons will be allowed in the venue during each mass, Angel Sumagaysay, head of the Public Safety and Security Command Center  told MindaNews.

Hundreds of devotees gather at the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague chapel in celebration of the feast of Sto. Niño in Shrine Hills, Matina, Davao City in this file photo taken on 15 January 2020, This year, only 100 persons will be allowed during the mass, as a precautionary measure against COVID-19. Five masses have been scheduled for January 15.  Mindanews Photo

He said five masses have been scheduled for January 15 but at intervals of two hours to allow for movement in and out of the chapel.

Sumagaysay said the security cluster has drafted the security and safety plan, and has agreed with church representatives on the set-up inside the venue to manage the crowd and control the entry of  devotees.

“It will be purely Masses,” Sumagaysay said, adding the other annual activities will not be allowed.

Devotees aged under 18 and above 65 and persons with disability (PWDs) will not be allowed inside the venue,” Sumagaysay said.

He said security personnel will be deployed around the venue to ensure the implementation of the minimum health protocols, particularly physical distancing, and enforcement of the one-entrance and one-exit policy.

“The number of people who will be allowed inside will be limited to the number of seats prepared for every Mass. The others will have to wait for the next Mass… The one who will assess whether the venue is already full or not is the church management itself while the security will assist them,” he said.

According to Resolution No. 80 of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued on October 22, 2020, religious gatherings in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) shall be allowed up to 30% of the seating or venue capacity.

The city reverted to GCQ from modified GCQ last November 20. The GCQ has been extended until January 31, 2021.

Mayor Sara Duterte said during her program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Friday that the city government will allow the celebration of the feast of Sto. Niño but security personnel will be closely monitoring compliance of to the minimum health protocols, such as observing the physical distancing and wearing of face masks and face shields.

As of January 9, the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region reported 229 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 13,696, with 1,987 active, 11,148 recoveries and 561 deaths in the region.

Of the total cases, Davao City reported 9,557, Davao de Oro with 651, Davao del Norte with 1,776, Davao del Sur with 1,001, Davao Occidental with 133, and Davao Oriental with 578.

Of 9,557 cases in Davao City as of January 9, 1,253 are active, 7860 are recoveries and 444 are deaths.

In the first nine days of 2021 (see other story), the city recorded 732 new cases and 38 deaths. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

Davao City records 732 new COVID-19 cases in 9 days; 1,088 in 16 days