Jun 11, 2020

Restaurants may be opening their doors soon as the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approves the plan to lift the ban on dine-in services and allow the partial resumption of regular restaurant operations.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the COVID-19 task force gave a nod to the gradual re-opening of dine-in services by June 15. However, this would only be for restaurants located in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).

The secretary said that this is “essentially in the interest of workers so they can get back to work, get back to their jobs.” Since the resumption of dine-in services will be done on a gradual basis, IATF’s approved recommendation limits the operating capacity to 30 percent in the meantime.

However, health and safety protocols must still be observed by both the restaurant staff and customers. This includes wearing masks, properly disinfecting facilities and practicing social distancing by implementing 1.5 meter spacing between tables and installing acrylic or clear barriers between customers.

Lopez also noted that this is in preparation for the eventual relaxation of quarantine measures in Metro Manila and similar areas in GCQ and modified GCQ. The Trade secretary also said that the government is working on reopening the economy and bringing back jobs, which were heavily affected since the pandemic caused shutdowns of establishments in March. 

“It is up to the government to find that healthy balance, bringing back jobs while making sure the health protocols are complied with so we can still avert any spread and transmission of COVID-19. We don’t want to lose the gains that we have enjoyed during the GCQ,”  Lopez added. This recommendation by IATF will be forwarded to President Duterte, who will then be expected to announce his final decision on June 15. He will be meeting with IATF on the said date.

Meanwhile, restaurants in areas under modified GCQ have already been allowed to resume their dine-in operations last week. However, establishments are only allowed to accommodate 50 percent of its capacity in the meantime. Several guidelines have also been set, including the provision of small trays for accepting cash, encouragement of alternative modes of payment and separation of handwashing sinks for kitchen staff and dine-in customers. Additionally, buffets and self-service areas are still prohibited.


Header photo by Shawn Ang on Unsplash

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