Mandatory Face Mask Policy for Traslacion Participants

A procession and blessing of the replicas of the Black Nazarene at the Quiapo Church in Manila on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024 are preludes to the feast on January 9. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN
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The annual Traslacion, a procession honoring the Black Nazarene, is set to take place on January 9th after a three-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, organizers are implementing stricter safety measures to ensure the well-being of devotees. In light of the ongoing pandemic, wearing face masks and maintaining a one-meter distance inside the church during masses will be strictly observed.

The Quiapo church officials emphasized the importance of adhering to minimum public health standards, despite the absence of social distancing and mandatory face mask policies in the country. Manila Mayor Maria Sheilah “Honey” Lacuna-Pangan expressed her support for these measures during a media conference, urging all attendees to prioritize public health and safety.

Recognizing the challenges of implementing physical distancing during the procession, the city government, in collaboration with Quiapo officials, will distribute face masks at control points before entering the activity areas. While the Minor Basilica and the National Shrine of Jesus Nazareno aim to maintain a maximum capacity of 750 inside the church, Fr. Jun Sescon, Quiapo church rector and parish priest, clarified that individuals beyond this limit would still be allowed entry as long as the one-meter distance is observed.

Before the pandemic, approximately 50,000 devotees would gather at the church and its vicinity. However, to ensure a safe and orderly procession, this number was significantly reduced to 3,000 during the pandemic, and will continue to be limited for this year’s celebration. The goal is to maintain a solemn atmosphere while prioritizing the health and well-being of all participants.

To enhance security during the event, certain items will be prohibited. Clambering up the wheeled carriage or andas will not be allowed, and hooded clothing, jackets, caps, and open umbrellas are also prohibited for security reasons. Devotees are encouraged to carry transparent bags for faster inspection, and to use water bottles instead of tumblers.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of the event. Approximately 15,000 officers will be assigned along the procession route, the Quiapo church, and nearby barangays to manage traffic and maintain peace and order. PNP Chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. decided to increase the number of officers to accommodate the expected larger crowd of devotees.

Despite the absence of credible and serious threats that could disrupt the event, the PNP will reinforce their security measures by deploying K9 teams and possibly jamming phone signals along the procession’s route. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will also provide support by conducting paneling at key locations and patrolling the Pasig River and Manila Bay behind the Quirino Grandstand. Coast Guard medical teams will be on standby, ready to conduct mass evacuations if needed.

In summary, this year’s Traslacion will prioritize the safety and well-being of all participants. Stricter safety measures, including the mandatory wearing of face masks and adherence to social distancing guidelines, will be strictly enforced. The cooperation of devotees, along with the support of local authorities, will ensure a solemn and secure event. Let us come together and celebrate this significant occasion while prioritizing the health and safety of all.

Source: The Manila Times

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