Restaurants stay strong amid COVID-19 | Inquirer Business
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Restaurants stay strong amid COVID-19

The presidential address late Thursday declaring there will be a community quarantine beginning today, March 15, left many questions in my mind: Will we still be able to do groceries after Sunday? Will restaurants still be open? If there is a Metro Manila quarantine, what will happen to restaurant workers who work in the metro but live in contiguous provinces like Bulacan or Cavite?

A community quarantine is technically not a lockdown. In Wuhan and Italy, the lockdown means residents are unable to leave their homes except to get food or medicines. Here, the quarantine will mean residents can still move around, albeit restricted.


Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat confirmed restaurants would still be allowed to open. Also, restaurant staff who live in other provinces, especially those in contiguous Bulacan or Cavite, would be able to go in and out of Metro Manila if they work in Metro Manila.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez also sent a clarificatory text to media saying that stores, restaurants, as well as offices and banks would remain open. Cargoes of food (even of non-food items) would also be allowed entry.


Yesterday, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) also announced LGUs would implement a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. to ensure the strict implementation of the community quarantine. This means restaurants that are open only for dinner will have to cease operations for a month. Restaurants with delivery options can stay open for production, but obviously cannot entertain customers past curfew.

The MMDA also recommended the closure of malls for the period of the quarantine although supermarkets and pharmacies would remain open.

This will terribly hurt the restaurant industry.

As it is, restaurant owners are already sacrificing profits just to ensure their employees are still able to take home their daily wages.

Last Thursday, restaurant owners shared their sentiments: Some restaurants have had to make the painful decision to close shop. Others were generous enough to give employees two months of paid leaves until they resume operations, hopefully, after the COVID-19 virus episode is over.

But there are those who have decided to courageously continue operations even with the pandemic. Wilson Lee Flores of Kamuning Bakery says they will stay open because “our cooks and staff need to work for their families.”

Chef Myke Tatung Sarthou of Talisay and Dexter Ding of Bai’s Lechon have the same sentiments. “Never mind if it not profitable [now],” Tatung says. “We have an obligation to our people.”


Sandee Masigan of XO46 and Arroz Ecija agree, “Our employees need it.” Jackie Ang Po of Fleur De Lys adds they will not even cut the workdays and salaries of their employees: “That’s why we stay open. It’s more for our employees than personal funds.”

Other restaurants determined to stay open are: iconic Japanese resto Sugi and Mexican resto Chihuahua in Greenbelt; all branches of Wingman; Ed Bugia restaurants Pino, Pipino, Pi Breakfast and Pies, Mimi & Bros and Bean & Yolk; Freska in Market Market and RCBC; luxe Spanish resto and wine cellar Txanton; and Chef Jessie Restaurants in Rockwell, Bonifacio Global City and in the building on Pililia Street in Makati.

In Pampanga, among other restaurants, Everybody’s Cafe and Downtown 1956 of Claude and Maryann Tayag are keeping an optimistic attitude, staying open in spite of the quarantine, even if they rely on visitors from Metro Manila or other places.

In Tagaytay, restaurants had just started resuming operations following the Taal eruption earlier this year and are determined to stay open. Chef Jayme Natividad of Taal Vista Hotel admits it is challenging but they are doing their best with the skeleton staff that they have.

Restaurants have already started implementing measures for everyone’s safety, for example: (1) hand sanitizers are readily available for customers; (2) common areas are sanitized every 20 minutes or every hour; (3) at Mimi & Bros, staff are required to wash hands at least every 20 minutes; (4) the body temperature of both staff and guests are taken at the entrance; (5) unwell staff are not allowed to work; (6) for Fleur De Lys, they upgraded to a hospital-grade disinfectant.

Says owner Mary Ann Quioc, “Our Downtown 1956 motto has always been ‘be clean, be safe.’ We will put small alcohol sprays on every table, reduce the number of tables and rearrange [them] for social distancing so our diners will never catch droplets, if ever. Our washbasin has soap, alcohol and alcogel (also at entrance). Two days ago we washed down the entire dining and kitchen.”

Deliveries available

The good news is that supermarkets will remain open. We may be forced to cook, but at least we have food to eat. Landmark has given assurance they will continue to operate and replenish stocks as often as possible.

For deliveries, here are several online groceries you might be able to use. This list has been circulating in various chat groups and the source is unknown but it is very helpful:

Online grocery:

•—Includes Robinsons Supermarket, S&R, Pet Express, Watsons, Family Mart, etc.

• Lazmart (inside the Lazada app)—grocery excluding fresh and frozen goods


•—Organic food Produce, dairy/eggs, bread, drinks, baking goods, deli, etc.


• —Seafood, poultry

• —Meat and seafood

•— Meats

• Limon Farms— – Organic chicken, pork and eggs

• VitaSea Seafood Supply—


• —Non-alcoholic drinks-Water (Wilkins, Viva) and other brands (Coke, Sprite, Royal, Minute Maid, Nutriboost, etc)

•—Alcohol, Mixers, some snacks


• The Murang Gulay Shop —

• Session Groceries (app)


Frozen cooked meals:


Clearly, there is a greater force compelling us all to stay home and no one is exempted.

Anyway, it is Lent. Maybe we are being sternly reminded to remember the reason for the season and to conform with the disciples of fasting, abstinence and prayer.

So let us pray. Pray every day (visit DominusEst.PH for updates on online masses and daily prayers).

Pray that this virus disappears and that this episode in history is over soon.

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