Ban is believed to be the first imposed by the Philippine Church on unjabbed people wanting to attend services
A conductor (right) calls on passengers beside a passenger bus with signage that reads ‘No Vaccine No Ride' in Quezon City, Manila, on Jan. 17 as the Philippine government banned unvaccinated people from using public transport amid a record surge in coronavirus cases. (Photo: AFP)
A parish in the northern Philippines has barred unvaccinated Catholics from attending church services for a festival on Jan. 24 dedicated to the Virgin Mary to prevent Covid-19 infections.
The ban is believed to be the first imposed by the Philippine Church on unvaccinated people wanting to attend services.
it also follows a move by the Philippine government this week banning unvaccinated people from using public transport amid a record surge in coronavirus cases.
Saint Monica Parish in Iba, Zambales province, north of Manila, requires devotees to show vaccination cards before being allowed to participate in the novena and Masses in honor of the Virgin Mary, or Ina Poon Bato, as she is known locally.
“Everyone must show their vaccination and identification cards as proof that everyone is vaccinated. There will be police checkpoints in designated areas and the police will check if every devotee has a vaccine card. To those who have not yet been vaccinated, we are sorry but you cannot attend,” parish priest Father Hanival Brucelas said on Facebook.
Father Brucelas appealed for everyone’s understanding, particularly those who would be denied entry.
The parish has also canceled events involving large crowds, such as traditional parades and processions, in a bid to contain the spread of the Omicron variant
“Right now, we need to consider the common good. This policy is not only for the vaccinated but also for the unvaccinated. We need to protect everyone’s health,” he said.
An image of the Virgin became popular after the Mount Pinatubo volcano erupted in 1991, covering several provinces like Zambales and Pampanga in ash.
Believing the image to be miraculous, devotees, particularly couples wanting to have children, pray to the image.
Unvaccinated Catholics have been advised to attend the celebrations online.
As well as the ban on unvaccinated devotees, the parish has also canceled events involving large crowds, such as traditional parades and processions, in a bid to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.
“We have fewer hospitals here than in Manila. That’s why we need to manage our Covid cases so as not to overwhelm our medical facilities and health workers here in Zambales province,” physician Doroteo Jalmanzar told UCA News.
Many areas in and around Manila are under a two-week lockdown in a bid to stem the surge in infections that saw the Philippines record nearly 37,000 new cases on Jan. 17.
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