Safety protocols to be followed in Ash Wednesday observance

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the existing health and safety protocols will be followed in the observance of Ash Wednesday on February 17,

Nograles, who co-chairs the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said the protocols imposed for last year’s Ash Wednesday celebration would be applied to this year’s rites.

 “The same rules implement last year should apply this year because our health and safety protocols remain in effect” Nograles said over state-run PTV-4.

As a preventive measure against Covid-19 infection,  Catholic prelates in 2020 sprinkled the blessed ash on devotees’ heads instead of the traditional marking of a cross on the forehead.

In its Circular No. 2021-05, the Archdiocese of Manila, , said Catholic faithful will be allowed to burn palms at home and use the ashes to sprinkle on family members on Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent.

Parishes that will have difficulty finding old blessed palm branches for this year’s Ash Wednesday could also use dried leaves of plants or trees as an alternative, based on the circular.

The palm branches blessed during the previous year’s Palm Sunday mass are traditionally donated by parishioners to their parish.

Nograles said the IATF-EID has yet to receive a request from the Catholic Church to ease venue capacity restrictions on Ash Wednesday,

Presently, a 30-50% seating capacity for religious activities are allowed in areas under general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine, respectively.

Nograles said the IATF-EID will meet shortly with the religious sector to discuss the rules that need to be imposed in observance of this year’s Ash Wednesday.