January 13, 2022 | 12:00 noon
CEBU, Philippines — Despite a spike in COVID-19 cases, Cebu City’s Emergency Operations Center has not recommended stopping physical novena masses honoring Sto. Niño in various barangay bands.
However, the EOC hopes these barangay chapels reflect the security measures taken by Augustinian friars at the Basilica del Sto. Nino de Cebu.
Cebu City is on alert level 2.
Under Alert Level 2, religious activities are permitted, 50% of seating capacity indoors and 70% outdoors.
Although it was supposedly permitted to engage in limited physical activities, the Augustinian priests decided to continue holding the novena masses and other festive activities for Sto. Niño online so as not to make it a “super spreader event”.
“Kabahin sa Fiesta Señor, a Panamanian gift from the Agustinian friars. Gani Sila, virtual Raman Gani,” said Joel Garganera, EOC Deputy Chief Implementer and City Councillor.
The basilica itself was also closed and only its pilgrimage center was open for candlelighting and worship.
There is also no foot procession this year and only five vehicles are allowed during the big motorcade this Saturday.
Garganera said, “It’s about meeting halfway.”
Church leaders and chapel leaders, he said, must assess the situation for themselves when it comes to the safety of followers.
In addition, Barangay Captains are also tasked with overseeing Sinulog-related activities and ensuring that there will be no “Super Spreader” events in the Barangays.
As of last night, the IATF placed Cebu City on Alert Level 3 effective January 14-31.
Left to conscience
Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Rama is also not issuing a directive regarding parties linked to Sinulog, saying Cebuanos and resto-bar owners know better.
He hopes that the public and entrepreneurs will let their “conscience” guide them.
Cebu City has already survived three waves of COVID infections and lengthy lockdowns. It is best, said Rama, that those who have no important things to do or shop outside should stay at home and stay pagpuyo. — Decemay Padilla, JMD (FREEMAN)