Manila City Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso has allowed churches, mosques and chapels to increase their authorized seating capacity from 10% to 30% for their religious gatherings.

Domagoso signed Executive Order No. 41 on Monday, October 19, to authorize the increase of seating capacity of religious gatherings “to promote not only the social and economic well-being “of his constituents but also their “spiritual well-being.” “There is a need for the city to address the spiritual needs of its constituents,” Domagoso said in his executive order.

Under the executive order, only citizens aged 18 years old to 65 years old are allowed to attend religious gatherings. Minors are still not allowed to attend these gatherings.While the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) issued a resolution adjusting stay-at-home directives for citizens aged under 15, the same resolution stated that “local government units shall retain the authority to impose a higher age limit.”

“All persons below 18 of age as well as those who are over 65 years old shall be required to remain in their residences at all times except when indispensable under the circumstances for obtaining essential goods and services, or for work in industries and offices or such other activities permitted by the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, as amended,” the executive order stated. “Provided finally that this shall not be interpreted to mean that restrictions imposed by various prevailing community quarantine classifications for the general population are lifted,” it added.

The Mayor also stressed that “religious leaders shall ensure that attendees of the religious gathering shall, at all times, strictly observe minimum public health standards and protocols set by the government.”To recall, Domagoso met with Archdiocese of Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo on Friday, October 16, to discuss the Catholic Church’s concerns for the conduct of the traditional ‘Simbang Gabi.’