Despite the threat of COVID-19, Malacañang said that the traditional “Simbang Gabi” or dawn masses in December may still push through if the rate of infection of the respiratory disease will continue to go down.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Archdiocese of Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo asked the local government to adjust the curfew hours during the masses leading to Christmas Day.

Harry Roque Jan 4 18 - Simbang Gabi this year still possible – Palace
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Officials of the Catholic Church likewise appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to increase capacity for religious activities during the Simbang Gabi from 10 percent to 30 percent.

In an interview with Super Radyo DZBB, Roque said that the IATF will continue looking into the matter but said that the traditional nine-day novena of masses may push through if the rate of infection will dwindle.

“Titignan naman po natin ‘yan. Kapag naman po talagang ang attack rate at health capacity ay nakita na nag-i-improve, puwede namang mag-MGCQ (We’ll see. If the attack rate and health capacity improve, we can shift to the modified general community quarantine),” he said Saturday.

Metro Manila remains under the GCQ until the end of the month and Manila is still implementing a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The Simbang Gabi masses usually start at 4 a.m.

According to Roque, the fate of Metro Manila’s quarantine classification depends on the people’s adherence to minimum health standards, particularly the government’s campaign slogan against COVID-19 “Mask, Hugas, Iwas.” The campaign reminds the public to wear a mask, wash hands regularly, and practice physical distancing.

“Nakasalalay po sa ating pasusunod sa ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas’ kung pupwede talaga tayong magkaroon ng mas maraming tao na pupunta ng simbahan para sa Simbang Gabi (It depends on our adherence to the ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas’ campaign if we can allow more people to come to church for the Simbang Gabi),” he said.

Roque said that things are looking good for Metro Manila.

“Ang ating R0 rate ay nasa less than one percent na. Dati po nakataas niyan (Our R0 or rate of infection is now less than one percent. It used to be very high),” he said.

“Baka naman po kaya nating makamit ‘yan. Tingin ko naman po nakakatulong yung patuloy na pagsunod sa ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas’ (I think we can make it happen. I think the continued observation of ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas’ helps,” he added.

The Simbang Gabi Masses culminate with the “Misa de Gallo” on Christmas Eve.

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