The Philippine government issued new orders restricting movement in an effort to control a spike in COVID-19, resulting in 10 dioceses suspending public Masses.
In addition, the Diocese of Balanga in Bataan province voluntarily suspended the public celebration of Masses, and Bishop Ruperto Santos dispensed Catholics from their Sunday obligation in order to help fight the pandemic.
The move came as medical workers asked for tighter restrictions because of the spike, reported CBCP News, official news agency of the Philippine bishops.
CBCP News reported that from Aug. 4 to 18, the dioceses in Metro Manila and four provinces will not have public Masses. The decision was announced after President Rodrigo Duterte's meeting with key Cabinet officials Aug. 2 as Covid-19 infections surged past 100,000.
CBCP News reported that before the government order, the Manila Archdiocese and the dioceses of Cubao and Paranaque had already announced the temporary suspension of public liturgical services for two weeks.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila said medical workers on the front lines of the pandemic had shown compassion and dedication.
"Many among them are tired and even discouraged by their heavy responsibilities. So we support their appeal for a 'time out,'" Bishop Pabillo said.
In an Aug. 3 pastoral directive reported by CBCP News, Bishop Santos said of his region: "Just this past week, our COVID-19 positive cases have doubled. ... Because of these, we are, once again, closing the doors of the church."