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DTI to study partial reopening of restaurants for dine-in

Aika Rey
DTI to study partial reopening of restaurants for dine-in
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez says they will first check if restaurants can apply health protocols to ensure the safety of diners

MANILA, Philippines – Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Thursday, May 21, said the government will consider allowing restaurants to reopen for dine-in at 50% capacity.

In a Senate hearing on coronavirus measures, Senator Cynthia Villar asked whether the government will study the resumption of dine-in restaurant operations, as not a lot “do well” with deliveries.

Villar cautioned that the prolonged closure of dine-in operations could lead to restaurants going bankrupt. As an example, the senator cited the experience of those at malls.

Lopez said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) personnel will visit some restaurants on Saturday, May 23, to check whether minimum health protocols can be applied. Prior to the lockdown, 70% of revenues came from dine-in operations, according to the trade chief.

“Kapag tayo po nakumbinsi na safe po kumain at mai-implement ‘yung (If we’re convinced that it’s safe to eat and implement) minimum safety protocols, we will allow [them to reopen],” Lopez said.

“We will propose or endorse [to the government’s coronavirus task force] the opening of dine-in, kahit (even at) 50%, for them to have social distancing,” he added.

Restaurants may be required to put barriers between tables, like clear plastic sheets or fiber glass, he said on Saturday, May 23, during a Laging Handa public briefing.

The DTI chief is hopeful that the proposal would be approved by the task force for areas under general community quarantine (GCQ). (READ: Workers tighten belts as gov’t aid remains uncertain)

Quarantine policies have slightly eased under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), but dining inside restaurants is still not allowed. Only take-out and deliveries are permitted.

Currently, only Cebu City and Mandaue City are under ECQ, where work is still not allowed. (READ: ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, MGCQ: Who can go where?)

Bataan, Bulacan, Metro Manila, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, and Angeles City are under MECQ. The rest of the country are under GCQ. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.