May 31, 2020 – The Philippines is mulling whether dine-in restaurants will be allowed to resume operations in Metro Manila and other areas under general community quarantine in June, the government’s task force on pandemic response said on Sunday.
Authorities will decide after three restaurants, a grocery and a clothing shop in Quezon City held a demonstration on Sunday on how these establishments would observe social distancing once they are allowed to operate.
“Pinakita nila na yung safety protocols can be doable,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told News5 in an interview, “Kaya nila ma-minimize, if not totally ma-prevent ang transmission and still do dine-in. Ang pinag-aaralan natin ay yung under GCQ, but they might need time to prepare, maybe two weeks.”
Dine-in restaurants are not allowed to resume operations on June 1 as restrictions were eased in the capital region from modified enhanced community quarantine to a general community quarantine. Restaurants will be allowed to operate only after areas are placed under a modified general community quarantine but only up to 50 percent capacity.
“Kung magkaroon ng magandang development by June 15, we can go down to MGCQ,” said ex-general Carlito Galvez, chief implementor of the national task force against COVID-19.
Under guidelines issued by the government for restaurants to resume operations include the reduction of seating capacity, assigning a safety officer, and regular intervals for sanitation. Utensils that were previously set before customers come in would also be removed.
Other restaurants featured a UV room for disinfection of equipment and delivery, and a log-in sheet for contact tracing.
Lopez said they would issue additional protocols later on Sunday, aside from the initial guidelines that the Department of Trade and Industry already released.
[Read DTI protocols on dine-in establishments here]
One retail store featured visual cues for foot traffic and daily disinfection of items. They also followed Quezon City guidelines that customers are prohibited to try on clothes.
Galvez said, that for now, only 10 to 20 percent of shops in the mall are open. He said he is expecting that on Monday, stores opening under GCQ will increase to 60 percent, and even further to 80 percent under MGCQ.
They also encouraged businesses to work with the local government regarding accreditation to open, and to make sure that health safety protocols are followed.
“Part of the guidelines is to remove bureaucracy. Basta nag-comply, pwede mag-open but they will be subjected to audit para in a way yun na yung accreditation. We will partner with the LGUs for regular visits,” said Lopez.
Meanwhile, Congressman Wes Gatchalian, chairman of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, said they would discuss the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act on Monday to increase the loans and grants for micro, small, and medium enterprises.
(Report from Lyn Olavario/Katrina Elaine Alba/MM)
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