Local governments can adjust curfew hours so their constituents can attend Simbang Gabi, the traditional pre-dawn Masses for Christmas, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Metro Manila officials have set curfew hours from 12 to 3 a.m. from Dec. 1, noted Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Previously, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año discouraged the public from doing face-to-face Christmas caroling and instead just resort to online caroling to avoid being contaminated with the coronavirus.
Año, a key member of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said there is nothing final yet on the proposal to prohibit face-to-face caroling this holiday season.
“Well, that is not yet banned because there is still no resolution coming from the IATF, but we are going to recommend that,” said Año.
On Sunday, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said he also favors the proposal “in the health interest of everybody.”
At the same time, the Archdiocese of Manila on Tuesday has issued instructions on the celebration of the Advent season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The circular, signed by Chancellor Rev. Fr. Reginald Malicdem, was prepared by the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission (ALC) and approved by Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo and the Presbyteral Council.
“As we are a few weeks from the beginning of the Advent season, we wish to offer you some instruction on how we could celebrate Advent, Simbang Gabi (night mass), and Christmas during this time of the pandemic,” said the order addressed to priests.
For the holding of the Simbang Gabi, the Manila archdiocese said “the Masses in the evening can start as early as 6 p.m. and for the morning, the last Simbang Gabi Mass can start at 6 a.m.”
It added that they can schedule more Simbang Gabi Masses in different venues so as to reduce the number of churchgoers.
“Please be reminded that it is our Archdiocesan policy that if Simbang Gabi Masses will be celebrated in chapels, offices, or places other than parish church, shrine of chaplaincy, an explicit permission from Bishop Broderick Pabillo has to be sought,” the order said.
It added that the Vigil Mass of Christmas on Dec. 24 may be celebrated from 6 p.m.
"The last Mass on the evening of December 24 would take the liturgy if the Midnight Mass of Christmas. The dawn Mass of Christmas may also be celebrated early morning of December 25,” it added.
The Archdiocese of Manila has encouraged families to bring their family image of the infant Jesus during the Christmas Masses since kissing of images is not permitted during the pandemic.
At the same time, it also discouraged parishes among others from having Christmas parties to prevent the spread of the virus and also to be one with those who are affected by the health crisis.
“We discourage parishes, communities, and groups in the Archdiocese of Manila from holding Christmas parties this year. We know that gathering of people is an occasion usually prone to the spread of the virus. Let this also be an expression of our solidarity with those who are suffering from the pandemic,” it said.
Meanwhile, the order said the ALC will prepare the Family Advent Prayers which include the Blessing and the Lighting of the Advent Wreath and Family Christmas Novena Prayers (using the prayers and readings of Simbang Gabi) as well as Family Prayers for the Blessing of the Belen, Parol, and Christmas Tree at homes.