Diocese of Borongan puts ‘caution tapes’ on church pews to protect mass-goers
TACLOBAN CITY — To protect churchgoers from COVID-19, the bishop of the Diocese of Borongan in Eastern Samar has put up yellow “caution tapes” on the pews of churches to make sure people are seated apart from each other.
The temporary seating arrangement imposed by Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez was intended to ensure the safety of those who attend Masses in all churches in the diocese.
From a capacity of 10, each pew currently accommodates three persons during Masses.
“And we are happy that this seating arrangement, which is in compliance with the social distancing measure, is positively welcomed by the parishioners. So far, we did not receive any adverse reaction,” said Fr. Neil Tenefrancia, assistant director of the diocesan commission on mass media of the Borongan Diocese in a phone interview.
With the arrangement, he said they are expecting the number of mass-goers to decrease.
At the Borongan Cathedral alone, Tenefrancia said the church could accommodate just 500 persons or half of its seating capacity of about 1,000.
Apart from the seating arrangement, the diocese also opted to lessen the duration of its Masses.
During Sunday Masses, Tenefrancia said they requested priests to limit the Eucharistic celebration to 45 minutes instead of an hour and 30 minutes.
Weekday Masses shall be finished within 30 minutes. Tenefrancia said the old and sickly parishioners are discouraged from going to church to hear Mass.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2, which outbreak started in China’s Wuhan City in Hube province in late 2019.
People who have COVID-19 could recover since for most people, its symptoms were mild like fever and cough. But the illness could also be worse or serious for others such as pneumonia, especially for older adults and those with existing health problems.
The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic as it has infected more than 150,000 people and killed over 5,000 all over the world. The Philippines has so far confirmed 111 people with COVID-19, including eight deaths.
President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a state of public health emergency throughout the country and placed the entire Metro Manila under “community quarantine” from March 15 to April 14, 2020, due to COVID-19.
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