Despite the easing of protocol restrictions in Metro Manila, bars with live performances are still not allowed to operate according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez Saturday.
As the National Capital Region (NCR) de-escalated to Alert Level 3 starting 16 October, cinemas, theaters, theme parks, swimming pools, libraries, museums and other tourist attractions, venues for social gatherings like weddings, parties, and debuts now have a go signal to operate and may accommodate up to 30 percent of their indoor venue capacity, but only for fully-vaccinated persons.
Outdoor areas of these establishments can take up to 50 percent of their capacity.
But if establishments secured a Safety Seal, he said there’s an additional 10 percentage points and 20 percent if in an area with over 70 percent vaccinated citizens, such as Metro Manila.
In a radio interview, Lopez explained that live entertainment bars are still closed, as performers belt during performances, making them remove their masks in front of their live audiences.
“Because singers blow air during performances, that’s why they are still barred from performing. Aside from that, some contact sports such as boxing, basketball, as well as fun fairs, playgrounds, and other activities. But compared before, more establishments are now operating,” he said.
The Trade chief stressed that theme parks and playgrounds inside malls are still not operational because children below 18 years old are still not allowed to enter malls.
Lopez maintained that these business establishments allowed to operate should still adhere to strict implementation of the minimum health protocols, such as wearing masks, face shields if indoors.
“Cinemas are required with proper ventilation, aside from minimum health standards. Children are only allowed to go out for special reasons such as medical, dental. And to those over 65, only Authorized Persons Outside Residences are allowed to go out,” he added.
Further, Lopez advised cinemas to coordinate with their respective local government units (LGU) because their opening will depend on the guidelines that will be released by Metro Manila Mayors in the coming days, even the announcement of their openings.
“The LGU can still adjust the maximum capacity for cinemas. We leave it to them to determine the final percentage capacity. But right now, the trend is to ease up the operational capacity as we want our businesses to rebound from their losses in the past stricter quarantine classifications, as well as provide jobs to those who stopped from working. But again, they should follow minimum health standards set by the government,” Lopez said.
The business community, spearheaded by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, has welcomed the pronouncement of Alert Level 3, treating it as an early Christmas gift to entrepreneurs who have been battered by the current pandemic due to mobility and quarantine restrictions.
Nevertheless, Concepcion still calls for the implementation of a more relaxed Alert Level 1 status, in order for entrepreneurs to earn income, stressing that they need at least 70 percent capacity.
“I think Level 1 is very possible with the low number of new cases being reported in NCR plus our increased vaccination percentage,” Concepcion stated.
Various businesses — including restaurants, gyms, spas, wellness centers, movie houses and salons — have joined Concepcion in calling on the government to provide them with the needed flexibility so they can slowly get back on their footings, especially in the last quarter of the year where spending is high, apart from the incoming 2022 National polls in May.