Last Friday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced that areas under general community quarantine will soon be allowed to open leisure outlets such as cinemas, museums and tourist attractions in an effort to help workers in these industries.
“‘Yung mga nabuksan po nating industriya, marami pong nagtatrabaho dyan na matagal nang walang hanapbuhay. Ngayon po makakapag hanapbuhay na sila muli,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque explained.
But is now the right time to reopen cinemas? Metro Manila mayors disagree. According to Metro Manila Council (MMC) chairman and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez, the mayors have sent in an appeal to defer the reopening of cinemas in the metro due to concerns about COVID-19 transmission.
“Alam naman natin sa cinema, enclosed yan, tatlong oras sa air conditioned [area],” Olivarez explained. “Questionable po yung ventilation. ’Yan po yung apprehension ng ating (local government units) sa Metro Manila.”
Olivarez added that the mayors were not properly consulted on the specifics of the reopening of these establishments. Instead, they will be consulting with IATF’s economic team on how to move forward.
Senators and infectious disease experts have also expressed apprehension regarding this directive. According to Senate Majority Leader and COVID-19 survivor Juan Miguel Zubiri, further relaxing the rules may result in another surge of infections in the country.
“Sa sinehan 50 percent capacity medyo puno pa rin yan. Kung may umubo dun, may humatsing ay napakadelikado na niyan,” Zubiri explained. “Magiging super spreader ang (place) na ’yan.”
In an interview with CNN, infectious diseases specialist Dr. Gene Solante pointed out that ventilation in leisure establishments may aggravate the spread of COVID-19.
“As long as (the implementers) can assure us that there will be good air exchange and ventilation in these areas and can strictly implement the number of people who will go there, we’re fine with that,” Solante stressed.