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Unvaccinated people are encouraged to attend virtual morning services.

Individuals who have not been vaccinated should reconsider physically attending the traditional dawn masses (Simbang Gabi), which will commence on December 15, according to Malacanang.

Unvaccinated individuals should attend virtual Simbang Gabi instead, according to Acting Presidential Spokesperson Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, to reduce the chance of contracting Covid-19.

“To those who are not yet vaccinated, it is preferable to attend an online or virtual Simbang Gabi; however, it is preferable to get vaccinated,” he stated in a Palace press briefing.

Meanwhile, vaccinated devotees attending dawn masses were admonished by Nograles to maintain minimal public health requirements.

“Ituloy po natin i-observe (Let us continue to observe) minimum public health standards – mag-mask po, hugas, iwas pa rin po tayo lalo na nandiyan pa rin iyong banta ng Omicron variant,” he added.

Until December 31, the entire country is on Alert Level 2, allowing churches to operate at 50 percent capacity for fully vaccinated attendees, with 70 percent allowed outside.

Churches in areas where Typhoon Odette is expected to make landfall are being asked to hold live streaming morning services instead.

After health officials discovered the Omicron variant in two tourists who recently arrived in the Philippines from Japan and Nigeria, Nograles warned the public not to become complacent and to maintain following to minimal public health requirements.

“We assure our people that we will closely monitor developments in the two cases in light of existing protocols,” he said in a press statement, “as we continue to remind the public not to let their guard down, to religiously observe minimum public health standards, and to call on all those who are unvaccinated to get their jabs as soon as possible.”

The Department of Health (DOH) reported on Tuesday afternoon that the Omicron variant had been found in two tourists who had just arrived in the Philippines from Japan and Nigeria.

Patients with the Omicron Covid-19 strain are being isolated in a facility run by the Bureau of Quarantine, according to the DOH.

The Department of Health is currently doing active case discovery and contact tracing to determine the health status of confirmed case co-passengers.

Health-related protocols

During the nine-day Simbang Gabi beginning Thursday, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, also known as Quiapo Church, stated health regulations will be strictly enforced both inside and outside the church.

According to the parochial vicar, Rev. Fr. Danichi Hui, devotees will be allowed inside the basilica on a limited basis, or 50 percent of its seating capacity, as part of the health protocols.

In a media appearance on Wednesday, he added, “We will be adopting the same health standards including immunization ID for mass goers, face mask, body temperature, and sanitation.” “There will be markers both outside and within the church.” We stick to the 50 percent capacity rule.”

Meanwhile, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco announced that unvaccinated churchgoers will be housed in tents outside the church.

“We always obey the government’s or the IATF’s (Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) orders.” They allow unvaccinated persons to attend outside, for example. “We set up tents in certain areas to house the unvaccinated,” he explained.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said they are permitted to admit parishioners at a capacity of 70% inside parishes and 80% outside parishes.

“So, with the approval of the LGU (local government unit), we will open the church for 70 percent seating and 80 percent outside for Simbang Gabi.” “We shall hold early Masses in our barangay chapels,” he stated.

All church workers in the diocese, he claimed, are completely immunized, including those who serve at the altar.

On the first day of the Simbang Gabi, Manila archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula will preside at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Manila Cathedral.

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