THE GOVERNMENT would allow bigger religious gatherings to test health protocols for the coronavirus before easing the lockdown in many places around the country, according to the Justice department.

The presidential palace earlier said congregations may accommodate a tenth of their usual capacity starting July 10.

“There will be pilot dry runs in a few selected churches, mosques and temples until July 10,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters in a Viber message on Sunday. “Thereafter, 10% attendance in all religious worships in general community quarantine areas will begin.”

Churches may voluntarily suspend worship activities amid the pandemic, he added.

The state has allowed 50% religious attendance in areas under a modified general quarantine since July 1.

Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque on Friday also said travel agencies could operate with a skeletal workforce to process refunds for canceled bookings.

Salons and barbershops were now allowed to operate, while professional basketball and football teams were allowed to resume practice.

Metro Manila remains under a general quarantine along with the provinces of Benguet, Cavite, Rizal, Leyte, Ormoc and Southern Leyte, and some cities in Cebu province. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas