Manila, Muntinlupa suspend Holy Week activities amid spike in COVID-19 cases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19)— Two cities in Metro Manila announced the suspension of Holy Week activities due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.

In a radio interview on Friday, Mayor Isko Moreno said all related activities will be canceled, including the rituals of “penitensya,” “Visita Iglesia,” and “caridad.”

Moreno said it was logical to do away with mass gatherings that could turn into superspreader events, especially with the COVID numbers rising.

Ang importante sa Semana Santa, 'yung relasyon natin sa Diyos (What’s important during the Holy Week is our relationship with God),” the mayor said.

Moreno said the local government cannot afford to take chances, citing the increasing occupancy rates in their district hospitals. He added authorities will continue to strictly enforce health protocols and implement localized lockdowns.

Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi also announced a similar move, except for the conduct of masses. However, churches were asked to maintain 30% seating capacity.

Fresnedi said it is imperative to carry out such restrictions especially since Muntinlupa shares its border with San Pedro, Laguna, and cities in Cavite — areas that are under more lenient quarantine rules.

Meanwhile, Antipolo City in Rizal also announced that its annual “Alay Lakad” and other Holy Week activities will be cancelled this year.

The Philippines logged an all-time high 7,103 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, pushing the nationwide tally to 648,066. Metro Manila continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic, with over 260,000 cases as of the Health department's latest data.