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With coronavirus on their minds, Philippines couples are masked for mass wedding

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Wearing blue surgical masks amid a coronavirus outbreak, 220 couples exchanged vows and kisses in the central Philippines to launch their married lives.

Lovers and their relatives braved the virus, which has killed 2,442 people globally, to attend a mass ceremony sponsored by the coastal city of Bacolod.

The lobby of Bacolod’s city hall was a sea of white shirts and gowns, dotted with the blue of the masks, which were mandatory for all, and provided by the authorities.

The weddings took place on February 20, with Bacolod city authorities releasing the images two days later.

“The place was jam-packed,” said John Paul Inventor, 39, who married his partner of seven years and the mother of their two children.

“It feels different to kiss while wearing masks, but it was required.

Participants had to complete health declarations, detailing a travel history for 14 days, the quarantine period across the globe for arrivals from China, and generally considered the maximum incubation time for the virus.

“If our families are strong, the city of Bacolod becomes strong, too,” said Mayor Evelio Leonardia, who officiated at the function.

Annual mass weddings are a post-Valentine’s Day tradition in the city, with a record 2,013 couples participating in 2013.

Mass masked weddings have also been held in South Korea, with more than 30,000 people married at a ceremony this month, amid heightened fears among Korean health officials.

According to South Korea’s Unification Church, it was held at Cheong Shim Peace World Centre in Gapyeong, north-east of Seoul, where those attending were also given hand sanitisers and surgical

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