Joint Press Release | 7 January 2021
Recognizing the annual tradition of the devotees of the Black Nazarene, the Department of Health (DOH), together with the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) and the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church) called on the the public to refrain from physically visiting Quiapo Church amid the threat of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the Traslacion 2021 being cancelled, officials of Quiapo Church headed by Reverend Monsignor Hernando M. Coronel reported that they are still expecting an influx of devotees for the image viewing of the Black Nazarene. In view of this, Msgr. Coronel said that preparations have been made in coordination with the local government unit of Manila City to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure strict adherence of all devotees to Minimum Public Health Standards (MPHS).
Msgr. Coronel, however noted that these preparations are contingency measures and emphasized that the best way to protect oneself is not to attend the events physically and instead find alternative ways to commemorate the annual feast saying, “Kung maaari po, hindi tayo dumagsa sa simbahan ng Quiapo. Kung maaari tayo ay magdasal bilang isang pamilya sa loob ng ating mga tahanan. Marami rin pong mga parokya sa National Capital Region at kalapit na mga probinsya na nagdiriwang ng novena at fiesta masses, kaya hindi naman tayo kailangan talaga pumunta sa simbahan ng Quiapo.”
Recognizing the possibility of the celebration potentially becoming a superspreader event, Dr. Anna Ong-Lim of HPAAC emphasized the need for the public to err on the side of caution when deciding whether to attend or not, especially considering the current pandemic situation in the country. “Puwede itong ma-characterize as a superspreader event dahil magkakaroon tayo ng mass gathering sa konteksto na nagaabang tayo ng surge, at nandiyan din ang concern about the UK variant,” Dr. Ong-Lim said.
The DOH also called on families to attend the online masses held hourly through the Quiapo Church’s Facebook page and reminded those planning to physically attend Mass celebrations or image viewing in commemoration of the feast of the Black Nazarene to strictly observe the following measures:
1. Ensure that there is proper ventilation in the place of gathering;
2. Always observe physical distancing of at least one meter when going to public or crowded places;
3. Wear your face mask and face shield properly;
4. Keep your visit short (as much as possible, not exceeding 15 mins);
5. Always wash or sanitize your hands, especially after touching high-touch surfaces;
6. Follow the health protocols implemented by the Church and of the local government authorities;
7. Cancel your travel plans if you feel any symptoms of COVID-19.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III also reiterated his call for the public to follow minimum public health standards to prevent COVID-19 transmission and to keep the country’s infection rate low. “Huwag nating hayaang mapasukan ng COVID-19 ang pagdiriwang ng paniniwala sa itim na Nazareno ng ating mga kababayang deboto. Kumilos tayo ng iisa upang tuluyan nating matiyak na ang ating pananampalataya ay naipagdiriwang natin ng lubos at ligtas,” Sec. Duque said.