Public masses may be canceled on surge of devotees at Sto. Niño fiesta

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 16) — While the Sto. Niño de Tondo Parish is not expecting an influx of parishioners tomorrow, it is ready to cancel its in-person masses if they witness a surge of devotees during the commemoration of the Feast of the Santo Niño in Manila, its spokesperson said.

JR Susi, spokesperson and head procession committee of Sto. Niño de Tondo Parish, said they do not expect to record a high number of parishioners tomorrow for the Santo Niño fiesta as the celebration is toned-down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Sa ngayon, hindi namin ini-expect na maraming tao ang dadagsa sa misa bukas gawa na sa bawat Facebook post ay inaanyayahan namin ang lahat na manatili na lang sa kanilang bahay dahil sa krisis," he told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Weekend.

[Translation: We don't expect that many people will attend the masses as we always encourage them through our Facebook posts to stay at home given the situation.]

Susi noted that from the usual 33 masses, the church decided to conduct only 11 masses to have an interval for the place's disinfection.

Only 300 people are allowed inside the church per mass, he said. Devotees are also required to observe health protocols, like wearing of face mask and face shield. They also need to fill up a contact tracing form.

"Kung sakaling hindi masunod ang ganito, handa ang simbahan na kanselahin ang public masses," he added.

[Translation: If [health protocols] will not be followed, the church is ready to cancel public masses.]

Earlier this week, the Manila City government issued an order prohibiting crowd-drawing activities during the Feast of the Santo Niño, including "street party, stage show, parade, and similar activities that draw crowd".

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said those activities would be "an easy medium of COVID-19 spread and transmission."