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Palace: Govt amends rules on mass gatherings under GCQ

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Palace: Govt amends rules on mass gatherings under GCQ

THE government has amended its rules on mass gatherings in areas under the general community quarantine to harmonize its guidelines with businesses, industries and activities that have been allowed, Malacañang said on Friday.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved the amendment during a meeting on Thursday.

The amendment was made to “reflect the businesses, industries, and activities that have been allowed by previous IATF resolutions,” Roque said in a statement.

Under the IATF’s guidelines, only selected mass gatherings are allowed in all levels of community quarantine, including GCQ, and modified GCQ (MGCQ) provided these adhere to minimum health standards.

In GCQ areas, the IATF allowed mass gathering for the provision of critical government services and authorized humanitarian activities while religious gatherings shall be allowed up to 50 percent of the seating or venue capacity.

“Provided that, religious gatherings shall be limited to the conduct of religious worship and/or service,” the IATF’s resolution read.

“Provided further, that there is no objection from the local government unit where the religious gathering may take place,” it added.

The latest amendment to the IATF’s guidelines came after the government allowed the reopening of cinemas, game arcades, and other leisure activities in areas under GCQ.

However, Metro Manila mayors expressed health concerns and deferred the reopening of cinemas.

Roque said cinemas in GCQ areas would not reopen until March 1 following further consultations although local governments that have issued guidelines may reopen their movie houses.

“We are in agreement about the need to gradually reopen the economy because more people now are going hungry than getting infected with or dying of Covid. But the [task force] and the mayors are also in agreement that minimum health standards should not be relaxed,” Roque said.

The IATF has allowed movie houses, video game arcades, theme parks, natural parks, historical landmarks, driving schools, libraries, museums and cultural centers to reopen in general community quarantine areas beginning February 15.

The decision was meant to allow more people to return to work as these establishments had been closed since last year.