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Cinemas, arcades may be next to reopen

/ 05:10 AM October 08, 2021

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government was considering to allow cinemas and arcades in Metro Manila to reopen.

But this would be if the terms of alert level 3 are changed and if Metro Manila will be placed under this level.

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A revision in the guidelines that govern the system may be needed as these establishments are currently not allowed to reopen even under alert level 3.

The Duterte administration shifted from a region-wide quarantine system to a new COVID-19 alert level system in Metro Manila starting the second half of September. The system has five levels, with 1 being the most lenient and 5 the most restrictive. The National Capital Region is currently under alert level 4. As per the government’s guidelines, this level means COVID-19 transmission is either high or increasing, and that utilization rates for hospital beds and intensive care units are also high.

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“Yes, those are included in the consideration,” Lopez said when asked during the Laging Handa briefing on Thursday if cinemas and arcades were among businesses being considered for reopening. If they will be allowed to reopen, he said, this would likely be done under alert level 3, which would require changes in the rules.

“But for alert level 4, the activities that are being reconsidered for reopening are the other personal care services,” he added, since the current terms under Alert Level 4 allowed only certain personal care services– barbershops, hair spas, nail spas and beauty salons–to reopen.

While the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases had kept Alert Level 4 in Metro Manila until Oct. 15, the government has changed the guidelines to allow other businesses to reopen and to further ease the restrictions on those already allowed to reopen without putting the country’s capital under a lower alert level.

For example, at the start of the pilot implementation, fitness studios and gyms were not allowed to reopen under Alert Level 4. But when the pilot program was extended on Sept. 30, these businesses were allowed to reopen up to a 20 percent capacity for fully vaccinated clients provided their workers were fully vaccinated as well.

The trade chief’s latest comment implies that the IATF may be considering a similar move to allow the reopening of cinemas and arcades. In February this year, the IATF also announced it would reopen these businesses in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) which included Metro Manila at the time, only to shelve the plan after being opposed by Metro Manila mayors.

Under the latest guidelines, these specific businesses would only be allowed to open under Alert Level 2, and they would be allowed to operate up to half of their venue capacity, with an additional ten percentage points if the establishment has a safety seal certification.

Now, Lopez said they were considering to reopen them under Alert Level 3.

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TAGS: arcades, cinemas, Secretary Ramon Lopez
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